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Pedro de la Rosa leaves McLaren for Sauber race seat

Pedro de la Rosa
De la Rosa has participated in 71 grands prix

Sauber have signed McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa to complete their driver line-up for 2010.

De la Rosa, 38, has spent seven years at McLaren but will now return to racing for the first time since 2006.

"I always firmly believed I would be given another chance as a team driver," said De la Rosa. "I'm really excited about the season with Sauber."

The Spaniard, a veteran of 71 grands prix, will race alongside Japanese team-mate Kamui Kobayashi.

The team is back in the ownership of founder Peter Sauber after BMW withdrew from Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season.

Sauber said he wanted one experienced driver and one novice in 2010 and believes the combination of De la Rosa and Kobayashi, who impressed when he was called up by Toyota to race in Brazil and Abu Dhabi last season, is the perfect match.

"Pedro has spent many years working for a top team at the highest technical level," added Sauber.

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"We as a team stand to gain from his experience and the same goes for young Kamui.

"The combination of a seasoned racer and an up and coming young driver has repeatedly proved a very fruitful one.

"I don't expect either of them to disappoint in 2010."

After a spell testing for Jordan, De la Rosa made his grand prix debut with Arrows in 1999 before moving to Jaguar.

In 2003, he joined McLaren as their test driver and was called upon to deputise for Juan Pablo Montoya nine times.

When the Colombian quit F1 for the Nascar Series in the United States in 2006, De la Rosa filled his race seat and went on to score his first podium, finishing second behind Jenson Button at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The ban on in-season testing, introduced in 2009 as part of an initiative to cut costs, has since limited De la Rosa's mileage.

He will be 39 by the opening race in Bahrain on 14 March and revealed a desire to get back behind the wheel prompted his decision to end his tenure at McLaren.

"Since the number of test drives were radically reduced, this was what I was working towards," added De la Rosa.

Pedro will be remembered by all at McLaren as, not only an esteemed colleague, but also a good friend

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh

"I'm excited about Peter Sauber's team, which has been a solid fixture in Formula 1 ever since 1993."

Gary Paffett is McLaren's remaining reserve driver but the team have not confirmed who will take over De la Rosa's duties at the forthcoming pre-season tests.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "Pedro has never made any secret of his continued ambition to race in Formula 1, so we were never going to stand in his way should an attractive opportunity come his way. On the contrary, we wish him well.

"He's been a fantastic team player for the past seven years, has contributed a huge amount to our successes in that time, and will remembered by all at McLaren as, not only an esteemed colleague, but also a good friend."



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see also
Kobayashi secures Sauber F1 drive
17 Dec 09 |  Formula 1


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