By Rosa Elena Torres | Pedro de la Rosa (born 24 February 1971) is a former Spanish Formula One driver who has taken part in 107 Grands Prix for the Arrows, Jaguar, McLaren, Sauber and HRT teams. Pedro also worked for Ferrari – the most successful F1 team, as development driver. He made his Formula One debut on 7 March 1999, becoming one of seventy-six drivers to score a point in his first race.
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As a racer, a tester, and now a TV pundit, Pedro de la Rosa continues to live and breathe Formula 1. This time, Pedro de la Rosa shares his fantasy Formula 1 set with us.
Ayrton Senna and Fernando Alonso
Senna because he’s always been my idol, and he is a racing standard that helped me or at least I’ve tried to resemble him during my racing career. He’s particularly important and I consider him one of the greatest drivers.
Alonso because he has the ingredients of a modern driver. He’s a driver devoted to working, he’s physically fit, well trained in sims, and he likes to compete in racing sims (e-sports). He’s greatly adaptable to any car, any type of tyres, and any weather: if it rains, it’s dry, or on dry surfaces. He’s always strong and for me, he’s currently the most complete driver.
In my fantasy team, no doubt I would always have Adrian Newey, because I was lucky to work with him in McLaren in 2003, 2004, and 2005. All the cars he designed were aerodynamically the best. Along with him, I would have (Patrick Allen) “Paddy” Lowe. When Adrian Newey left, Lowe took up the torch in McLaren. Hence, they are two technical directors that I knew well. They’re the best that I’ve ever worked with.
I would take Ron Dennis because he’s the most detail-oriented team owner that I’ve seen in my life. He’s obsessed with cleanliness, tidiness, and neatness, which I think is an indispensable element to make winning cars.
He used to look at all details from how we dressed, how we ate, and how it was our hairstyle, but you need that kind of boss to reach a grade of excellence. He always used to say: “A clean car is faster than a dirty car.” In addition, a clean car is more reliable, because when you clean it, you can detect small cracks and small issues that otherwise you wouldn’t see them.
No doubt Martin Whitmarsh, who is now CEO of Aston Martin and I know him very well because my tenure in McLaren was under his leadership. He was Ron Dennis’ right hand. Dennis would put discipline and order, Martin knew where to put the best people in the right place, as leaders of each department. That’s a great attribute in my opinion.
Detect talent is the most important attribute of a CEO or Team Principal. He used to be focused on the strategy of the team, on topics more than on details. If you don’t know how to detect talent and don’t know how to assign responsibility, the talent leaves your team. He knew how to keep the best personnel and promote the people who deserve it.
I go for the V10 era with the McLaren MP4-20, which was the last McLaren with a V10 Mercedes-Benz (Ilmor-built) engine, and it’s the penultimate car designed by Adrian Newey in McLaren. It’s the fastest car that I’ve ever driven in F1. In fact, I still hold the fastest lap record in Bahrain with that car (lap 43, 1’31”447). Many times have passed, we have DRS, it was introduced KERS and ERS, slicks and all you can think of, but the MP4-20 with grooved tyres, the V10 engine and no change of tyres allowed during the race in 2005 still holds the fastest lap record. I choose that car because it was the fastest, however it was not reliable enough. Several races should be won with it, and it didn’t happen because of mechanical failures, probably because the team was trying to make the car as light as possible and some parts were broken due to fatigue.
I like it silver, not grey, like in the McLaren MP4-21 in 2006. For that livery, it was introduced a paint that had a metallic component, and it was real silver, it wasn’t greyish. However, because of the metallic component, the painting was two kilos heavier. Ron Dennis chose that livery despite the weight. He said: “The most important thing is that the car can be the most beautiful.” Indeed, for me, that livery was the most beautiful of all in Formula 1, and with that red combination of the rear and front wings, it was a blast.