Image source: Getty Images
Pedro de la Rosa claims, Lewis Hamilton’s arrival in the sport was a problem for team-mates and rivals alike.
De la Rosa, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton tested in September of 2006, with a seat at McLaren up for grabs for the following year.
The Spaniard was in prime position to take the seat but Hamilton got the better of De la Rosa.
Hamilton won his first title in just his second season in F1, while racing for McLaren, and has added five more since moving to Mercedes.
Hamilton is now seven race wins shy of matching Michael Schumacher’s haul of 91 and equalling that tally would put him well on the way to a seventh World Drivers’ Championship.
“We go to test in September, one day with Lewis in Silverstone, and that’s when my mind changed,” De La Rosa told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.
“We go testing there, it was his first-ever Formula 1 experience. So I did a run, came back, looked at the times and I saw Lewis was fastest, you know? On the second run.
“And I looked at the data and I said: ‘What happened?’. [McLaren said:] ‘Well, we put him in new tyres.’ And he was so fast through Copse, Becketts, Maggotts… I just realised the potential of Lewis Hamilton.
“We had a massive problem. We [at McLaren] and all the drivers in the grid. [Joking] Because if Pedro de la Rosa has a problem, everyone has.
“First ever Formula 1 test, his second run, and I realised this guy is very, very fast. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of drivers in my life, you know, I’ve been with very good drivers I would say, and I feel very honoured of that. But when I saw Lewis, I thought: ‘Wow, this is very special’.”