Pedro de la Rosa
Spanish racing driver Pedro de la Rosa spent most of his career in Formula One, recording 104 starts between 1999 and 2012, but he was able to complete only four full seasons. De la Rosa raced with five different F1 teams (Arrows, Jaguar, McLaren, Sauber, HRT), scoring just one podium, the second place at 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix with McLaren-Mercedes.
Earlier in a career, before making F1 debut, Pedro la Rosa took three championship titles in Japan, winning the Formula 3 in 1995, All-Japan GT Championship in 1997 and Formula Nippon in 1997.
Double European karting champion early in a career
He was born on February 24, 1971, in Barcelona. As a boy, Pedro was very interested in cars and racing but unlike most of his colleagues, he didn’t drive karting. De la Rosa started his career in radio-controlled cars and won three consecutive national titles from 1983 to 1985. He also was a double European champion in 1983 and 1984 and vice-champion in the 1986 world championship.
Finally, at the age of 17, Pedro entered the world of karting, racing in the Spanish championship, but didn’t stay long in the series after he moved to the single-seaters in 1989. When he raced in the Spanish Formula Fiat, he won the title from the first attempt.
Conquering the lower ranks of formula racing
From 1990 to 1994 Pedro successfully competed in the various championships. In 1990, he won the title in Spanish Formula Ford after being fastest in 8 out of 10 races. Next year, he competed in the Spanish Formula Renault and was 4th, while in 1992 Pedro won the title in the Formula Renault Great Britain, scoring three wins and other four podiums. Another triumph that year was a title in the newly formed "Rencontres Internationales de Formule Renault" which will later become European Formula Renault championship.
In 1993, De la Rosa moved to British Formula 3, driving for renowned West Surrey Racing. He finished 6th overall without any race win or podium finish on his account. Pedro stayed in the series for another season, this time as a driver of Racing for Spain team, but the results were poor and he dropped to the 19th position.
Departing to Japan in 1995 and taking three titles in three years
Pedro de la Rosa decided to go to Japan in 1995 which proved to be a perfect decision. Driving for TOM’S, one of the best teams in the All-Japan Formula 3 series, Spanish driver won 8 out of 9 races and won the title. The same year he was also 3rd in the Macau Grand Prix, behind Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli.
The following season wasn’t so good. Pedro shared his duties between Formula Nippon and All-Japan GT Championship but failed to win any of 16 races in both championships. Spaniard returned to Macau Grand Prix with Paul Stewart Racing but dropped to the 7th place.
The season of 1997 was one of the best in Pedro’s career after he won two trophies. In Formula Nippon, De la Rossa scored 6 wins out of 10 races and had other four podiums before winning the title, while in All-Japan GT Championship, driving alongside Michael Krumm, he won the title after winning 2 out of 6 races and he had other two podiums.
Debut in the Formula 1 Championship with Arrows
With a lot of silverware and huge confidence, Pedro returned to Europe and began the search for the place in Formula 1. In 1998, he joined Jordan team as a test driver. He used that year to pick some experience which helped him to earn the full-time driving place in the next season.
In 1999, De la Rosa secured his first race seat at Arrows. The debut was like a dream come true as he won his maiden point after finishing 6th at the Australian Grand Prix. However, the rest of the campaign was completely different. He managed to finish only 4 out of remaining 15 races and retired from other 11.
The second year with Arrows was slightly better even though he again had 11 retirements. However, De la Rosa finished 6th in the European Grand Prix, as well as in the German Grand Prix, before finishing 16th overall with two points in his books.
Move to Jaguar
After he left the Arrows team, Pedro in 2001 joined Jaguar Racing as a test driver but quickly was promoted to a race driver, replacing Luciano Burti after the fourth race of the year. The 6th place in Canada and the 5th place in Italy were the highlights of the year in which he scored 3 points and finished 16th in the standings.
De la Rosa’s second year with the team was the one to forget. He finished the season with empty books, failing to score a single point from 17 races. Spaniard recorded 9 retirements that year, while the best result was the 8th place in Australia and Brazil. At the end of the season, Jaguar paid off his contract which was supposed to expire at the end of 2003.
Seven years with McLaren Mercedes
In 2003, Pedro became the test driver for McLaren team with which he spent seven years. Over the years, alongside Alex Wurz, he made a significant impact on their return to the winning path. However, testing the car wasn't his only duty. In 2005, De la Rosa replaced injured Juan Pablo Montoya at the Bahrain Grand Prix and impressed by taking the 5th place.
The Colombian left McLaren in the middle of 2006 campaign and Pedro again got an opportunity to show his skills in the last eight rounds. He did a good job and scored in five races, with the 2nd place (behind Jenson Button) at Hungaroring as the highlight of, not just the year, but also Pedro’s whole career.
Spaniard stayed with the team for another three years and helped in developing the cars but never got a new opportunity to race, so at the end of 2009, he decided to try his luck on the other side.
Short spell with Sauber
The season of 2010 for Pedro was like another debut in Formula 1. He signed with Sauber F1 team and raced in 14 Grand Prix events before he was dropped and replaced by Nick Heidfeld five races before the end of the season. However, Spanish driver was able to score once that year, taking the 7th place in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Pedro raced for Sauber once again. It was at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix when he was a substitute for injured Sergio Perez. In the meantime, De la Rosa returned to McLaren and again was the test driver.
Pedro’s last F1 season with the Hispania Racing Team
De la Rosa returned to a full-time seat with the small Hispania Racing Team in 2012. He signed a two-year deal but the financially-struggling team was hardly able to complete one season before folding at the end of campaign.
Pedro didn't have enough opportunity to show his potential besides regularly beating his team-mate Narain Karthikeyan. Unfortunately, he was unable to be any near to the points zone. His best result was the 17th place which wasn’t respectable at all.
Ferrari’s development driver
In January of 2013, De la Rosa signed a contract with Ferrari. His role was to act as a development driver. Interestingly, Pedro was involved in 2007 ’Spygate controversy’ when he was caught sending e-mails about Ferrari’s technical details.
Pedro left Scuderia at the end of 2014 but before the end of his career, he had one more engagement as the 2015-2016 pre-season test driver of Formula E Team Aguri.