De la Rosa to stay GPDA president

Pedro de la Rosa looks set to continue his role at the head of the F1 drivers’ union, despite dropping off the actual racing grid for 2013.

The veteran Spaniard, however, will still be at the grands prix in his new role as Ferrari’s development test driver, and so according to El Mundo Deportivo newspaper he will likely remain president of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA).

“I am ready to go on, if the other drivers want me to,” he is quoted as saying.

It is reported de la Rosa’s re-election will take place in Australia, ahead of the 2013 season opener next month.


Smoky start to de la Rosa’s Ferrari career

Pedro de la Rosa’s Ferrari career got off to a smoky start on Friday morning, as the first test of the 2013 pre-season wraps up in southern Spain.

Taking over from Felipe Massa at Jerez, as Fernando Alonso trains in Dubai, the team’s new development driver and Spaniard de la Rosa was on only his second installation lap when he “stopped on track”.

Ferrari’s official Twitter did not mention, though, that the 41-year-old Spaniard had to step out of the new F138 car amid clouds of white smoke. And photographs of the car, taken after it smoked to a halt between turns 7 and 8, showed extensive burn damage at the rear.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reported that the cause of the problem was a transmission fault, which is currently being repaired.

“It will take a while to hit the track again,” confirmed Ferrari.


De la Rosa: Ferrari’s Jean Todt turned me down

Ferrari turned down Pedro de la Rosa when the Spaniard was first on the market as a test driver.

The 41-year-old is now regarded as arguably F1’s very best test driver, who has been signed by Ferrari for 2013 and will drive the team’s 2013 car at Jerez next week.

But he recalled: “When I left Jaguar, in January 2003, I called Ferrari to offer my services as a test driver and reserve. Jean Todt said, ‘We have Felipe Massa and Luca Badoer, so we’re covered’, and hung up.

“Then I called McLaren, Martin Whitmarsh, and he said they were covered with Alex Wurz. But I told them that Ferrari has two testers, and so he told me that if I was in England, to come and see him. Two weeks later, I got on a plane and met with them. The interview was really bad, but they signed me.

“If I had not been quick to say that the competition had two testers, I would probably not be here today,” he smiled.

De la Rosa was McLaren’s test driver between 2003 and 2009, and again in 2011.

He continued: “I don’t know if everyone is happy or not, but the important thing is to look to the future. Certainly there were other teams, but probably they were not quick enough or they knew what I wanted. For me it was very important to do something different.

“It is a massive challenge, but I’m where I want to be. One of the first people I called was Martin Whitmarsh; obviously he was very surprised by the decision, but he congratulated me.”

Now, he is looking forward to his debut in a red car, next week at Jerez.

“I am very happy to be able to test the car, I didn’t expect that.”

De la Rosa also said he will be “ready” in case Ferrari call him up to race, as a reserve driver at every grand prix.

“I’ll be at the race and prepared for what might happen. But whether or not I am reserve driver is a team decision. But if I have been ready my whole career, how could I not be ready now?” he added rhetorically.


De la Rosa ‘proud’ of Alonso’s respect

Pedro de la Rosa on Monday said the fact Fernando Alonso “wants” to work with him at Ferrari has made him “very proud”.

The fact test driver de la Rosa has joined his countryman and former McLaren colleague at the Italian team for 2013 was interpreted by some as a further sign of the increasing influence wielded by Spaniard Alonso at Ferrari.

2012 HRT driver de la Rosa, 41, said on Monday: “That Fernando wants to work with me makes me very, very proud.

“Not because he is Spanish, but because he is the best,” he said in Spanish at a Santander sponsor event.

Meanwhile, de la Rosa denied media reports that he was signed up by Ferrari because the Maranello based team is developing an all-new driver simulator.

“A new simulator for me? I’m good, but not that good!” he joked.

“There is no such project,” the former Arrows, Jaguar and Sauber driver insisted in Madrid. “We have started a job and will develop what we have, which is perfectly valid.

“But what is certain is that, with the number of changes to the regulations for 2014, we have a lot of work to do in the simulator. And that’s one of the reasons I’m here, because the amount of work Formula One teams have to do is huge.”


Ferrari’s Alonso to sit out Jerez test

Fernando Alonso will not drive Ferrari’s 2013 car until the second test of the pre-season, the Italian team has announced.

Maranello based Ferrari said it will be Felipe Massa at the wheel for the first three days of the four-day test at Jerez early next month. And it will be new test driver and Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa making his Ferrari debut on the final day of running.

“In the meantime and throughout all the first part of February, Fernando Alonso will intensify his physical training”, Ferrari said in a report on its website.

The team said the double world champion will only debut the as-yet unnamed 2013 Ferrari at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, where he will drive for the first three days of the second four-day test.

Ferrari’s racing duo will then share the running at the final Barcelona test, meaning that Brazilian Massa will head into the start of the championship with six days of running under his belt, compared to Spaniard Alonso’s five. Ferrari justified de la Rosa’s day of running on the basis that his new role will be principally focused on simulator driving.

“His day on track on 8 February will be very important,” the website report read, “as it will allow both the team and the driver to work specifically on looking at the correlation between the virtual and the real experience.”

Meanwhile, Brazil’s Totalrace reports that Nico Hulkenberg will be giving Sauber’s new C32 its debut at Jerez, before teammate Esteban Gutierrez takes over for the second half of the four-day test.


Now de la Rosa admits dream over for HRT

Pedro de la Rosa, HRT’s lead driver in 2012, has joined boss Luis Perez-Sala in admitting that the Spanish team has folded.

Spaniard de la Rosa, who was contracted to keep racing this year, has already said he is on the lookout for a new role elsewhere as test or reserve driver.

“There has been no official announcement,” the 41-year-old told the Spanish sports daily Marca, “but we all feel that the project will end. The sad thing is that there was never a Spanish team before and now I think we will not see one again.

“It was an historic occasion. With a great champion like Fernando (Alonso), it was a good time and an excellent backdrop for the national interest. I think it will be very difficult to have these circumstances again,” he added.

As for HRT’s demise, de la Rosa admitted: “If the project failed, we’re all a little responsible.”


Brazil GP could be last race for HRT

According to strong paddock rumours, Sunday’s Brazilian grand prix will be the last lap for ailing backmarkers HRT. Publicly looking for a buyer, it is reported that staff have actually already been served with pending redundancy notices that will come into effect after the chequered flag waves on Sunday.

“None of us know what will happen,” team driver Pedro de la Rosa, who was expected to stay at the Spanish team in 2013, admitted to reporters in Brazil.

When asked about the redundancy notices, he answered: “All I know is that we are here and that everyone here has not received anything.

“What happens after is unknown,” added de la Rosa. “I hope the team continues but at this moment in time I cannot say any more.”