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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
15/08/2013

 

Biography

 

1997 Formula Nippon Champion Pedro spent much of 1998 as test driver with Jordan before making his F1 debut with Arrows in 1999, becoming one of a handful of drivers to score points on his race debut.

Sadly, it was to be his only point of the year as he suffered a string of retirements throughout the season, though his fortune changed for the better in 2000. Points finishes at the Nurburgring and Hockenheim were the highlights of a far from easy second season with Arrows, and de la Rosa was eventually dropped in favour of Enrique Bernoldi at the end of the year.

Frustrated to be without a drive, Pedro signed as Jaguar tester for 2001, on condition that he would be promoted to a race seat the following year. In fact he did not have to wait that long, replacing Luciano Burti for the Spanish GP and teaming up with Eddie Irvine.

Although he struggled with qualifying, Pedro scored his highest points finish at Monza, finishing fifth, which left the Spaniard optimistic that he would be able to repeat the feat in 2002.

Despite admitting to being disappointed by the R3 in pre-season testing, Pedro was looking forward to his first full season with the Milton Keynes outfit.

Sadly, Pedro had every reason to be concerned with the car's pre-season performance, it was a 'dog', a major step backwards. The internal battles at management level soon spilled out into the garage and by mid-season Pedro and his team-mate Eddie Irvine were exchanging 'blows' in the media.

Although Pedro might not be the quickest man in F1, he is not the slowest, yet his average qualifying position in 2002 was 19th. Poor handling, little pace and dreadful reliability left the Spaniard struggling and when the news came that he had been dropped, along with Irvine, he almost seemed relieved.

Pedro was linked with a couple of test roles but in the end they came to nothing, thus after 63 races and a mere 6 points it looked as though another F1 dream was over, then came the phone call. Following the Australian GP, race winner David Coulthard and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen opted to stay out east rather than return to Europe for testing, and as a result McLaren contacted Pedro.

At Jerez and then again two weeks later in Barcelona, the Spaniard was mighty impressive showing the kind of pace that many thought he didn't have. On the eve of the Brazilian GP, and with his fellow countrymen now switching back on to F1 in the wake of Fernando Alonso's success, Pedro was signed by McLaren as official test driver alongside Alexander Wurz.

Having been retained for 2004 and 2005, it seemed that Pedro, like fellow-McLaren employee Wurz, was destined to be a professional test driver rather than racer, pounding out countless miles in private rather than racing in front of packed grandstands.

However, fate played a hand - no pun intended - when Juan Pablo Montoya injured himself playing tennis days after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

At short notice the Spaniard was brought in to replace the Colombian in the Bahrain Grand Prix, putting the McLaren eighth on the grid.

The following day, Pedro gave the performance of his life, taking four points from a race in which he made a couple of silly mistakes yet fought back every time, posting the fastest lap of the race and winning a tremendous wheel-to-wheel battle with Mark Webber.

For 2006, Pedro was retained for a fourth season, with Wurz heading off to join WilliamsF1.

Having deputised for Montoya in 2005, it didn't come as too much of a surprise when Pedro was asked to 'fill in' once again, following the Woking team's decision to part company with the Colombian following his much-publicised - and highly surprising - decision to switch to NASCAR for 2007.

Although it was originally thought Pedro's promotion would be temporary, the Spaniard retained the seat for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, the short comings of the MP4-21 meant that there were no repeats of the 2005 Bahrain performance.

That said, he scored points in five of the eight races he contested, the poor reliability which had blighted Raikkonen's season eliminating him from the German and Italian events.

The highlight of Pedro's brief season had to be second place at the Hungaroring, his first F1 podium, however, with no disrespect intended, much like Jenson Button's win, this result was largely fortuitous.

Following the 'departure' of Fernando Alonso at the end of a difficult 2007 - how about that for an understatement - there was talk that Pedro might get the nod in respect of the Woking team's Spanish sponsors Santander, but it was not to be, the seat going to Heikki Kovalainen.

At the end of 2008, after another season with the Woking team, there was talk that a berth might be found for Pedro at Force India, what with the new technical partnership which effectively saw the Silverstone-based outfit become McLaren's B-team. However, team boss Vijay Mallya was quick to confirm Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil for another season.

Consequently, Pedro spent a seventh season with McLaren, though the new testing rules meant he rarely donned his white overalls for serious on track action.

Going into 2010, McLaren was known to be keen on retaining Pedro's services despite even stricter restrictions on testing, however, the Spaniard continued to be linked with a number of teams including Campos Meta, US F1 and Sauber. That said, with all three teams said to be looking for a driver with substantial backing it was widely assumed that Pedro would spend his eighth year at Woking.

On January 19 however, no sooner had a number of websites run stories suggesting that Giancarlo Fisichella was "on pole for the Sauber drive", than the Swiss team announced that Pedro was to partner Kamui Kobayashi.

"Pedro has spent many years working for a top team at the highest technical level," said Peter Sauber. "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." And if anyone knows about talent it's Peter Sauber.

Sadly, Pedro's return to the F1 grid was not a happy one. Although pre-season testing went well it was soon clear that this was more about low-fuel runs. Poor mechanical grip, particularly with a full fuel load, left the car almost 2s off the pace of the front runners.

While the team worked furiously behind the scenes trying to sort the basic car, leaving the upgrades for later in the season, Pedro found himself suffering an inordinate number of engine failures. Indeed, by Monza - the fourteenth round of the season - he was already on his ninth Ferrari powerplant of the year.

Over the course of the Valencia, Silverstone and Hockenheim weekends, the team introduced an upgrade that included aero and mechanical improvements, and Pedro responded, making it through to Q3 at Silverstone and in Hungary, where he went on to finish seventh, thereby racking up his first points of the year.

However, after Monza, by which time Kobayashi had scored 21 points to Pedro's 6, the Spaniard was dropped in favour of Nick Heidfeld. Having failed to get a race seat for 2010, the German had secured a role as test driver for Pirelli as the Italian tyre manufacturer prepared for its return to the sport in 2011. When Heidfeld joined Sauber, Pedro filled the German's seat in the Pirelli shod Toyota and returned to testing duties.

In a surprise move, on March 9, McLaren announced that Pedro was rejoining the team as its official test and reserve driver. The move followed media speculation as to the competitiveness of the MP4-26 and effectively saw Gary Paffett demoted to a lesser test role.

However, there was an even bigger surprise in store for the Spaniard in June, when Sergio Perez, on his return to action following his Monaco accident, complained of dizziness after the opening practice session in Montreal. Sauber hurriedly contacted McLaren and a deal was agreed which saw Pedro drive the C30 for the remainder of the weekend.

Considering the Spanish veteran had no experience of the car, his seventeenth place on the grid was mighty impressive, as was his performance next day when he brought the car home just outside the points.

Days before the 2011 season finale in Brazil, it was revealed that Pedro had agreed a two year deal with HRT, the Spanish outfit formerly known as Hispania. The move meant that when the cars lined up on the grid in Melbourne, forty-one-year-old Pedro was the second oldest driver out there, around twenty years older than the youngest, Jean-Eric Vergne. In many ways the writing was on the wall when HRT failed to attend pre-season testing with its new car having failed to pass the mandatory FIA tests. The team did finally make it to Barcelona with the F112 but for a day of promotional filming.

Consequently, it was off to Australia for the season opener and a car that hadn't covered any serious mileage. No surprise therefore that failing to qualify within the required 107% - Pedro covering only 7 laps over the entire first two days of the weekend - the team was sent for an early shower.

In Malaysia Pedro qualified and finished 22nd despite receiving a drive through penalty after the race was restarted, later promoted to 21st place due to Karthikeyan's 20-second penalty for an incident with Sebastian Vettel.

In China Pedro finished 21st, one lap down from the race winner, while in Bahrain he finished 20th after qualifying 22nd, although after the race he admitted that the team still needed "to gain some speed per lap" to fight their rivals on a consistent basis.

Pedro finished his home race for the first time since 1999 in 19th place, the last of all classified drivers. However, he was unable to complete the Monaco Grand Prix due to a collision with Pastor Maldonado at the beginning of the race.

As the season progressed there was talk that it could not afford spares, such speculation was hardly helped by an alarming number of brake failures.

In November, months after the team's much trumpeted move to its new headquarters at the Caja Magica in Madrid, it was revealed that owner Thesan Capital was in talks with several parties regarding its sale. Shortly after it was announced that the team was being put up for sale and that a new owner had to be found by 30 November - the date by which entry fees for the 2013 season were due - or else exclusion from the sport.

Thesan Capital failed to find a buyer and as a result the team was duly omitted from the FIA's 2013 entry list. It was subsequently reported to be in liquidation.

At a time when many though the demise of HRT meant the end of Pedro, maybe another season or two as a test driver, Ferrari announced that it had recruited the Spanish veteran as its development driver, a role which would him spend countless hours in the team's simulator. Days later, however, the team revealed that he would spend a full day of the first pre-season test, in Jerez, in its 2013 contender.

The move is likely to have been suggested by Fernando Alonso, the two having worked together at McLaren. Indeed, Pedro was involved in the 2007 Spygate saga, the Spaniard understood to have sent emails to Fernando Alonso - then at McLaren - and Mike Coughlan regarding Ferrari's car set-up.

Statistics - at the end of 2012 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 9
Grand Prix: 104
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1

Best result in 2012: 17th (3 times)
Best qualifying 2012: 21st (4 times)
Worst qualifying 2012: 24th (2 times)

2012: Out-qualified Narain Karthikeyan 17 times
2012: Out-qualified by Narain Karthikeyan 3 times

2012: Completed 928 out of 1134 laps (81.8%)
2011: Finished 15 times from 19 starts (79%)

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