Pedro de la Rosa gave an insight on an incredible performance by rookie Lewis Hamilton in his first F1 testing with McLaren
Lewis Hamilton got the opportunity to drive the McLaren MP4-21 days after winning the GP2 series. He drove alongside two times World Champion Mika Hakkinen and Pedro de la Rosa.
During this period, it was still unclear who will be the number two driver at McLaren. Juan Pablo Montoya left the team abruptly to focus on NASCAR while Kimi Raikkonen joined Ferrari.
Pedro de la Rosa replaced Montoya and drive through the final races. Despite the solid performances, Rosa was still in McLaren’s wishlist alongside Hamilton and Gary Paffett.
Speaking in the Beyond the Grid podcast, the Spanish driver reflected on Hamilton’s second performance in testing. He explained how it was certain that Hamilton will get the seat.
Lots to improve over the years
Lewis Hamilton was provided with three days of testing opportunity to impress Ron Dennis. During his first day of testing, he didn’t set a single-timed lap.
Speaking about the event, de la Rosa said: “He [Hamilton] did a run, and he was nowhere. I remember looking at his data with Philip Prew, my race engineer back then.”
His race engineer Philip Prew informed de la Rosa that it’s still a long ride for Lewis. He will improve a lot over the years with time.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the number 44 shocked them all on the second and third days of testing. Hamilton set the sixth fastest time of the day within a second behind de la Rosa’s.
“When I saw Lewis, I thought: ‘Wow, this is very special'”
This week’s #F1BeyondTheGrid guest, ex-Spanish racer Pedro de la Rosa, gives his take on the young @LewisHamilton, the Briton’s rivalry with Fernando Alonso at McLaren and much more >> https://t.co/9pY4G8lAkZ pic.twitter.com/30PkTuH0Cf
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 18, 2020
Witnessing the special talent of Lewis Hamilton on the second day of testing
The former Jaguar and Arrows driver clearly saw the potential in Hamilton. He said: “I did a run, came back, looked at the times. Then I saw Lewis was fastest on the second run!”
Despite the newer tire, Hamilton was super fast through Copse, Becketts, and Maggots. The Spanish driver added: “That then I just realized the potential of Lewis Hamilton. Just looking at the data for a couple of seconds I realized we had a massive problem.”
He felt honored driving alongside a rookie with a special talent. Appreciating Hamilton, he added: “I’ve been with very good drivers, I would say, and I feel very honored of that. But when I saw Lewis, I thought wow, this is very special.”
Smart decision by McLaren
The former GPDA chairman had no remorse for not being chosen as the second driver. He explained: “I was happy with that because I said to myself if I was in, Ron’s [Dennis] shoes, or Martin Whitmarsh’s shoes, I would take the same decision. Lewis is incredibly fast and Fernando as we all know is mega.”
The seven-times world champion described the test as the best week of his life at the time. He added: “I worked my way through it. The thing that really struck me, after GP2, was the downforce in the high-speed corners. I was like, ‘Wow, this is Formula 1! I want this!'”
Pedro De la Rosa would go on driving for Sauber, HRT, and would eventually join Ferrari as a testing driver.