The Spanish Connection: de la Rosa, Santander and Campos; Pay Drivers Return

Daniel ZylberkanCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 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

The Pedro de la Rosa to Sauber news that surfaced on Sunday out of the Swiss press and was quickly squashed by Pedro himself was quite honestly the most perplexing piece of news I've heard in Formula One circles in quite some time.

It didn't add up, Pedro has never had any relationship with the Sauber outfit. He is the "British Spaniard" after all he did race for Jaguar along with the most British of all British racing drivers Eddie Irvine, long rumoured to be Stig on Top Gear.

After Jaguar's, (read Ford's) failed attempt at the highest level of the motoring world another major manufacturer gave Pedro a chance, Mercedes and McLaren. There was no clear way he would ever reach the grid as anything more than a test driver, with great talents like Kimi, Montoya and Coulthard ahead of him.

In 2006, when Montoya quit and back to America to his old boss Chip Ganassi. Pedro once again had a chance to drive on Sundays and in all honesty he wasn't the fastest guy around but he was quick enough, he might have even kept the seat if the other Spaniard hadn't joined McLaren the following year.

So after that little excursion into Pedro's history here's my point. Can anybody see Pedro not racing for Campos in 2010?

The answer is of course not. The reasons why are as follow

  1.  Campos doesn't have a major sponsor at the moment they are backed up, by the PR firm  Meta but that isn't enough.
  2. Pedro is Spanish, how can a Spanish team not run with any Spanish drivers. The idea is to showcase your nation's know-how competitive spirit. (Formula One is indeed becoming A1GP)
  3. Three Pedro has a major standing sponsorship with Santander, the biggest and most well known Spanish bank. After the Financial Meltdown, banks have lost a lot of the prestige they once had, but this deal is key to Campos' image.

A Spanish driver, a Spanish bank for a Spanish team, it's meant to be.

USF1 has been linked to the Argentine driver Jose Maria Lopez, only because of his sponsors. Lopez used to be in the Renault driver development program earlier in the last decade.

But he was dropped because of his lacking performance, since then he has raced touring cars in the Argentinian equivalent to BTCC and hasn't been in single seaters since 2006. But USF1 needs the money so they'll compromise on driver quality and take the money.

This used to happen all of the time in the 1980s and 1990s in Formula One when the ceiling to enter the sport, not succeed, but to run with the big boys nonetheless was much, much lower.

In those years the 107% rule was applied a lot, I don't remember the last time a Formula One driver was not able to qualify for a Grand Prix in the past 10-15 years. Grids were often 30 cars or larger. Teams like Ligier, Larousse, Minardi, Footwork, Pacific and Simtek sprung up out of nowhere.

This left a lot of room for Formula One hopefuls, who were hopeless, (sorry for the pun, it was too tempting) to be in the sport guys like Pedro Diniz, Alex Yoong and more recently Sakon Yamamoto are examples of rich kids that reached Formula One even if they didn't deserve it.

Resource Restriction makes the fiscal climate of Formula One more similar to the one from the early 1990s than of the past decade dominated by enormous multinational manufacturers. New teams can now compete with the larger teams and they'll need more drivers to fill those seats and more often than not, the driver who has the most money to offer will get the seat. Just like the good old days.


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