Pedro de la Rosa reveals how Lewis Hamilton impressed him with his drive in the simulator on a new track, while they were both at McLaren.
Pedro de la Rosa worked as McLaren’s test and development driver between 2003 and 2011, which means his tenure with the team overlapped with much of Lewis Hamilton’s.
On the F1 Nation podcast, Pedro reveals how Lewis impressed him while they were both doing their first ever simulator laps on the then new Abu Dhabi circuit, prior to the track’s introduction into the 2009 F1 calendar.
“I’ve seen Lewis adapt to new tracks in the simulator, which is exactly the same approach as adapting in the real car at the real track,” de la Rosa said.
“For example, it took me several runs to remember Abu Dhabi when Abu Dhabi was new in the simulator.
“I spent the whole morning just checking the graphics, learning the track, and setting up a lap time. I remember Lewis arriving at lunchtime.
“I had been several hours in the simulator [and] I was pretty happy with where I was and the circuit – everything.
“He jumped into the simulator and he said: ‘Is the first corner to the left or to the right?’ I said: ‘Man, you didn’t check the track map!’, and he said he hadn’t. I said: ‘It’s a left-hander, third gear left-hander’.
If you like SilverArrows.Net, consider supporting us by buying us a coffee!
“After three laps, just three laps, he did exactly the same lap time as I did the whole morning! This is for real. I’m not really proud of it!”
The Spanish driver then went on to further elaborate on Hamilton’s spectacular adaptability.
“It’s just how fast they get to the limit. Under normal circumstances, I could match his lap time.
“The problem is, when the tyres degrade, when you have more fuel, when there is a bit of rain or it’s windy at one corner, on what part of the track… Lewis will adapt faster.
“Lewis, Fernando [Alonso], Max [Verstappen], Charles [Leclerc] – they will adapt faster. That’s where the difference comes from.
“You put a new set of tyres on, they will pick up the extra grip. It would have taken me two more laps, which is obviously when you’re losing the peak of the tyre.
“It’s the beauty of working with guys like them – they are really, really special,” de la Rosa concluded.