Stand-in De La Rosa Given 10 Minutes Notice


Veteran Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa was given only 10 minutes warning on Friday that he was racing for Sauber as replacement for Mexican rookie Sergio Perez at the Canadian Grand Prix.

De la Rosa, 40, the McLaren team test and reserve driver, was called in when Perez, 21, said he felt sick after driving in Friday morning's free practice session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

He said: "I was finishing lunch when Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber chief executive) showed up at McLaren and asked me, 'are you ready? It's very likely you will have to get in the car'.

"I checked my watch and it was ten to two and I said 'but there's 10 minutes to the start of the session.' From then it was a crazy race to get my helmet, my overalls, my things at McLaren, sit in the car, and set up the pedals where I wanted.

"But we couldn't do it, and we had to go out with the pedals where they were. But you don't have to be nervous. It's an opportunity and we have to enjoy it."

De la Rosa said he had arrived in Canada aware that Sauber could need him, but was sure that Perez was fit enough to race.

Perez passed a fitness test on Thursday.

He had suffered severe concussion following a major accident at the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago.

De la Rosa added: "Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren team principal) had told me that Sauber had called in case there was a chance, but told me not to get carried away.

"So I arrived here thinking it was impossible. I knew Sergio was fine and I was sure I wouldn't get in the car, until ten to two."

As part of the contingency plan for De la Rosa, Sauber had a seat he had used last year with them in Montreal.

"We could use my seat from last year which was absolutely very, very important and vital," he said.

"As far as all the rest is concerned, I went out with my McLaren overalls, boots, helmet. We also did a quick fix on the ear pieces to match the system from Sauber.

"Let's be realistic. I have a lot to learn yet. I need a lot more discipline with the buttons, the KERS, the DRS, because I'm used to a car with the buttons on the opposite side.

"So I have to look at the buttons and then push it. It doesn't come naturally yet. We'll be fine. I have to improve step by step, but I'm happy because I didn't expect it."