Despite rumours to the contrary, team boss Peter Sauber has offered reassurances to a close friend of Pedro de la Rosa that the Spaniard’s race seat is not in jeopardy.
De la Rosa, 39, returned to a race-driver role after several seasons spent pounding the test tracks for McLaren as the team’s official test and reserve driver.
Despite brief substitution roles to cover the injury (and later sacking) of Juan Pablo Montoya in 2005 and 2006, de la Rosa’s last full-time F1 drive was with Jaguar in 2002.
When his appointment was announced, we were certainly one of many to question Sauber’s wisdom in hiring an older driver with a hardly-glittering F1 pedigree, and Pedro’s 2010 season hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. In fairness, however, a lot of that is down to the rather poor chariot at his disposal in the form of the Sauber C29.
At a media event held in the lead-up to the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix, the nation’s head of motorsport, Carlos Gracia, urged the local media to supports its Spanish drivers: de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso.
Spain’s Diario newspaper added that “Peter Sauber had assured [Gracia] that [de la Rosa] is not in doubt."
That being said, Herr Sauber is not always known for empathetic driver management – remember what happened to Gianni Morbidelli’s career in 1997?