Jun.11 (GMM) Pedro de la Rosa's last-minute Sauber race drive in Canada raised more than one set of eyebrows.
The team's official reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez was in Mexico when his countryman Sergio Perez reported ill in Montreal, disapprovingly revealing that he followed the saga of de la Rosa's move from McLaren on Twitter.But another driver wondering why he wasn't given the call was Nico Hulkenberg, the highly rated Force India reserve who lost his Williams seat for 2011 to Pastor Maldonado."Did Herr Sauber not have my phone number?" the German is quoted as saying by Swiss newspaper Blick.Auto Motor und Sport, however, claims that Hulkenberg is too tall for the C30 cockpit, while de la Rosa was an obvious choice because Sauber still has his seat mould.Agrees Hulkenberg: "You don't just jump into a formula one car these days and drive it."Peter Sauber confirmed: "He (Hulkenberg) is too tall for our car. He is also employed by our direct competition. Between us and Pedro's McLaren, on the other hand, there is no conflict of interest."And de la Rosa, 40, is familiar with Sauber, having raced the C30's predecessor for much of 2010."It's a totally different car, but it speaks a similar language," agreed Sauber.Even so, the Perez substitution came as a complete surprise to de la Rosa."I was just finishing lunch with ten minutes until practice and they told me to get in the car," he revealed to El Pais newspaper."I ran to get my gear and helmet and got in the car and they tried to adjust my seat. They also tried to move the pedals but couldn't."I feel bad for Sergio but this is a gift that I will enjoy," he insisted.Boss Sauber admitted that he was grateful Perez alerted the team about his sickness rather than risk his safety by trying to drive through it."It's one thing to train, exercise or drive a kart and quite another to drive in formula one," said Perez's assistant Sallares Jaume."It shows his maturity. It's not just about him but also about the danger of injuring someone else," he added.