Pedro De la Rosa didn’t begin karting until the relatively late age of 17. Soon after he was discovered by the Spanish Automobile Federation, who immediately started sponsoring him and recruited him to compete in their 1988 single-seater scholarship programme called ‘Ofensiva Uno’. The following year he won the Spanish Formula Fiat Uno series and then moved up to the Spanish Formula Ford 1600 championship and proved equally successful.
After finishing fourth in the Spanish Formula Renault championship, De la Rosa travelled to the UK to compete in the 1992 British Formula Renault championship, where he posted three wins and the title, as well as the European Renault series crown.
After stints in British Formula Three (1993-94) and the Japanese Formula Three series and the Formula Nippon championship (1995-97), De la Rosa made his debut as a Formula One test driver for the Jordan team in 1998. The following year he contested his first Grand Prix in Australia for Arrows, taking his inferior car straight into the points with a sixth-placed finish and securing his seat for a second season. In 2001, De la Rosa moved to Jaguar and made his way back into the points with a fifth-place finish in Italy and a sixth in Canada.
In 2003 he lost his seat at Jaguar and, unable to find another race drive, signed as a tester with McLaren, where he stayed for the next seven seasons. In 2006, De la Rosa replaced the departing Juan Pablo Montoya and picked up 19 world championship points over eight race. However, it wasn’t enough to persuade McLaren to pick him over Lewis Hamilton for their ’07 campaign, so he remained a key member of the team’s testing squad.
In his late thirties, a full-time race return for the Barcelona-born driver looked unlikely, but with the 2010 season saying farewell to two manufacturers and welcoming four new teams, the merits of having an experienced race and test driver on your books skyrocketed. BMW Sauber were just one team to court the Spaniard and he eventually signed, teaming up with young rookie driver Kamui Kobayashi.