HRT convinced de la Rosa to leave McLaren contract

Pedro de la Rosa had to be convinced to break his multi year McLaren contract in order to join back-of-the-grid Spanish team HRT in 2012. The Spaniard told reporters in Madrid that he began talking to former F1 driver Luis Perez-Sala, now an advisor for the team’s new owners Thesan Capital, in July.

“To begin with, I didn’t contemplate joining,” said the 40-year-old, who explained that he was eventually convinced by the “serious and realistic approach” taken by Sala and team chief executive Saul Ruiz de Marcos.

Interestingly, team boss Colin Kolles was not present at the news conference.

“It’s no secret that I had a contract with McLaren for the next few years so this was only possible because of them,” said de la Rosa, who has been the main test driver for the famous British team for many years.

El Pais quotes him saying: “There were months of negotiations.”

Added de Marcos: “From day one we got straight down to work to try and convince him and after four months of negotiations I am very proud to have achieved it.”

Sala agreed: “It wasn’t easy as he was very happy at McLaren but, in the end, he decided to join us and I’m very proud to have him on our team for the next two years.”

According to El Mundo newspaper, de la Rosa arrives with a few personal sponsors but is hoping to attract even more backing. “I come to stay but I need the support of the media and national companies,” he said.

He is quoted by Marca: “I must make it clear that McLaren agreed to end my contract and I thank them. Another reason for coming is because a test driver cannot test any more. F1 is now the only sport that doesn’t let you practice and it’s a shame also for young drivers who are not getting the opportunity.

“At Singapore I remember looking in the mirror and saying ‘I can’t take another year of sitting on the pitwall watching the other drivers pass by’. I think at McLaren they understand me well, that I want to race and their response was spectacular. Martin (Whitmarsh) was surprised but he told me he was proud to have a reserve driver who has the passion to keep racing.

“It’s a very mature decision and I am so happy because I would have had qualms leaving a team in a bad way.”

De la Rosa clarified that he will remain with McLaren in Brazil this weekend and then throughout the month of December.