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With an announcement being issued on Monday that Pedro de la Rosa will join HRT and make a Formula 1 race return in 2012, the Spaniard leaves McLaren for the second time. Having originally joined the Woking squad in 2003, the Barcelona driver has been a key player in the team’s successes over the past nine seasons.
De la Rosa first joined McLaren after losing his seat at Jaguar, racking up thousands of miles in test sessions as David Coulthard and Kimi Räikkönen headed the race team. At the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix, he replaced the injured Juan Pablo Montoya, before taking the Colombian’s place for the final eight races of the following season and finishing second to first-time winner Jenson Button in Hungary. After racing with Sauber and serving as Pirelli’s tyre tester in 2010, de la Rosa returned to McLaren this year, making a one-off race return at Sauber as he subbed for the ill Sergio Pérez in Canada.
“Pedro’s contribution to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been fantastically valuable – perhaps even more valuable than may be apparent to outsiders in fact – ever since he joined us in 2003,” says Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh.
“As a test driver, he’s been extraordinarily hard-working – on-track and, latterly, more often, in our simulator – and his feedback has been reliable and expert. But his contributions have gone wider and deeper than that: Pedro is the archetypal team player, a big motivational presence in our team and, perhaps because of that, he’s someone whom I personally will always count as a true friend.
“In 2010 and 2011 he drove some races for the Sauber team – and, although he’s always approached his test and development work with McLaren with energy and enthusiasm, he remains a racer at heart. For that reason, we understand and support his decision to join HRT as a race driver and we wish him well. It goes without saying, however, that he’ll be missed.
“We’ll continue to be well served by Gary (Paffett) and Oliver (Turvey), both of whom will continue their excellent test and development work for us in Pedro’s absence.”
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