Former teammate Pedro de la Rosa says he knew about Hamilton’s huge Formula 1 potential just two runs in during his Silverstone test outing.
Lewis Hamilton made history by achieving his 100th Pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix. The Briton is setting new records in Formula 1, as he also holds the record for most Grand Prix victories, and equalled Michael Schumacher with 7 World Championship titles, hoping to break into the 8th title this season.
Former teammate Pedro de la Rosa reflected on how Hamilton’s performance surprised him back in 2006 during a Formula 1 test outing in Silverstone.
“We had two cars, we were testing there, [and] it was his first ever Formula 1 experience. He did a run, and he was nowhere, you know,” de la Rosa told Beyond the Grid.
“I remember looking at his data with Philip Prew, my race engineer back then. We were looking and Philip told me: ‘The boy will need to improve a lot over the years… It’s a long road for Lewis, but he will be good, but we just have to give him time, blah, blah’.
“And I thought ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’. 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?’. [The said] ‘Well, we gave him new tires’.
“So I looked in the data, and he was so fast through Copse, Becketts, Maggots… that then I just realized the potential of Lewis Hamilton. Just looking at the data for a couple of seconds I realized we had a massive problem.
“It was his first ever F1 test, his second run in Silverstone, and I realized this guy is very, very fast.”
De la Rosa said he knew Hamilton would be chosen to be Fernando Alonso’s teammate for the 2007 season, but says he had no hard feelings.
“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.” And then, when the season was over, I knew that Lewis would be in the race car and I knew that Fernando was signed.
“And I was happy with that, because I said to myself, if I was in, Ron [Dennis]’s feet, or Martin Whitmarsh’s feet, I would take the same decision, because Lewis is incredibly fast and Fernando as we all know, is mega.”