The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team today launched the car it will campaign in the 2009 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at its headquarters in Woking. Test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett talk about the new season and the MP4-24.
Interview Pedro de la RosaWith greater restrictions on testing, will your role change significantly this year?
“Of course, the new regulations will significantly affect the way the team is able to test, effectively ending in-season track testing. But it is important to remember that the role of a test driver isn’t solely confined to the test track – I regularly visit the McLaren Technology Centre, meet with the engineers and try new developments on the simulator. None of that will change.”Will you be less busy than in 2008?
“I will still be heavily involved with the winter test programme until the end of March. And you mustn’t forget that I still retain my role as the team’s reserve driver, which means I will travel to every race and am ready to jump into the car in an instant if either Lewis or Heikki is unable to compete. That role will still take up an enormous amount of my time.”How will you assist with the development of MP4-24?
“Away from the cockpit, the team will still rely on all the drivers’ feedback to develop the car. My role, as always, will be to use my experience to provide the engineers with consistent feedback. The absence of in-season testing simply means that the test drivers will be integrated even further into the simulation development team and will be an invaluable asset to the whole team.”
Born February 24 1971; place of birth Barcelona, Spain; website www.pedrodelarosa.com
2008 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test driver; 2007 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test driver; 2006 Team McLaren Mercedes (eight races, one podium, 11th, 19pts); 2005 Team McLaren Mercedes test driver (one race, fastest lap, 20th, 4pts); 2004-2003 Team McLaren Mercedes test driver; 2002 Jaguar Racing (19th, 0pts); 2001 Jaguar Racing (16th, 3pts); 2000 Arrows (17th, 2pts); 1999 Arrows (17th, 1pt); 1998 Jordan test driver
1997 Japanese F3000 (champion, 82pts, six wins), Super GTs (champion, 67pts, two wins); 1995 Japanese F3 (champion, eight wins), Macau F3 (third); 1992 British Formula Renault (champion), European Formula Renault (champion); 1990 Spanish Formula Ford (champion); 1989 Spanish Formula FIAT (champion)
Interview Gary PaffettHow will your role develop with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes during 2009?
“The regulations restricting in-season testing will have a knock-on effect on every test driver within the sport – and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is no exception. My contribution to the team will be smaller than it has been in recent years – but this gives me the opportunity to focus on my racing commitments with Mercedes-Benz in the DTM.”What are your aims for the year ahead?
“Like any racing driver, I want to prove myself in a competitive environment. At the moment, I am very optimistic that I will be able to race at the front in the DTM with Mercedes-Benz but it’s still important that I keep my options open in Formula 1. Given the present financial situation within the sport, who knows what could happen around the corner?”Are you keen to remain part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team?
“Absolutely. Both McLaren and Mercedes-Benz have played instrumental roles in my career and have supported me for a very long time – both organisations are like family to me. Even though I will be racing in DTM, I will be heavily involved in the engineering development programme throughout the year.”
Born March 24 1981; place of birth Bromley, UK; website www.garypaffett.com
2008-2007 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test driver; 2006 Team McLaren Mercedes test driver
2008-2007 DTM with Mercedes-Benz; 2005 DTM (champion, 84pts, five wins); 2002 German F3 (champion, seven wins); 2001 German F3 (6th, one win); 2000 British F3 Scholarship class (champion, 13 class wins); 1999 Formula Vauxhall Junior (champion, 129pts, four wins), McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year