De la Rosa Celebrates 'Best F1 Race'

Spanish stand-in Pedro de la Rosa proved his worth to McLaren on Sunday with a memorable performance in Bahrain

De la Rosa Celebrates 'Best F1 Race'

"This was my best race in Formula One by a mile," he said after finishing fifth and also setting the fastest lap of one 1:31.447 seconds 14 laps from the end.

"It's the first time in Formula One that I've had a competitive car and I have been able to enjoy and overtake people instead of being overtaken. I had a lot of fun and it's always fun when you finally overtake people."

The 34-year-old battled his way past Briton Jenson Button's BAR, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari and Australian Mark Webber's Williams.

"We had a massive battle there, I tell you," he said of his clash with Webber.

De la Rosa had not raced since the end of the 2002 season when he left Jaguar. In four years in Formula One, two with now-defunct Arrows and two with Jaguar, his best result was fifth at Monza with Jaguar in 2001.

Employed as a test driver by McLaren, he found himself racing in Bahrain after Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was injured last weekend.

He had to ease off at the start as he found himself heading into the second corner with teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third for McLaren's first podium of the year.

Sunday may have been de la Rosa's finest hour, with Montoya expected to return at the next San Marino Grand Prix on April 24, but it could also have been his last Grand Prix appearance.

"It might be, I don't know," he said. "I have been very honest. I've done my best today, I feel great and if its my last race it's not a problem because I proved a point today.

"If I hadn't proved a point today I would feel sore or bitter but that hasn't been the case. I've done the fastest lap. I had five clean laps during the whole race so to do fastest lap is quite good."

Team boss Ron Dennis said the Spaniard had shown "the level of professionalism and speed that we have always observed in his testing role."

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