Pedro De La Rosa To Join Sauber?

Gareth Llewellyn-StevensCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2010

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29:  McLaren Mercedes Test Driver Pedro de la Rosa of Spain celebrates ten years in Formula One before the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit on March 29, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

In the latest twist to Formula One's silly season, rumours are circulating that McLaren Reserve and Test driver Pedro de la Rosa will join Sauber for 2010.

Sauber boss Peter Sauber has made it known that he has already signed an "experienced driver" to partner rookie Kamui Kobayashi this season, that it will be a surprise, and that it is not Heidfeld, the man who spent seven years driving for them 2001 and 2009.

Unless Ralf Schumacher has succeeded in his attempts to come back, de la Rosa is the favourite.

At 38, de la Rosa, who will become the second oldest driver on the grid behind Schumacher, is believed to have considerable backing from an unknown Spanish sponsor, believed to be Santander or La Caixa, which will be very welcome at Hinwil.

de la Rosa has not raced competitively in F1 since the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix after he replaced Juan Pablo Montoya half way through the season.

The Spaniard has made 72 race starts, mostly running at the back of the grid with the former Arrows and Jaguar teams, claiming 29 points, with a solitary podium finish to his name at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2006 for McLaren, where he finished second, ahead of Heidfeld for BMW-Sauber.

The news will come as a double blow for former driver Nick Heidfeld who lost out on a drive with Mercedes following the return of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher last month.

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Should Heidfeld remain in F1, the only credible drive available for him will be the second seat at Renault with former BMW-Sauber team mate Robert Kubica.

The news will also come to a blow for Spanish team Campos Meta who had wanted de la Rosa to partner rookie Bruno Senna during their first season in F1.

Diario Sport, a Spanish daily sports newspaper, has reported that de la Rosa has denied the claims he has signed for Sauber, but time will tell.