Pedro de la Rosa says every driver that comes to Formula 1 has been “special” in junior categories, but “reality comes” when you see “monsters” like Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa had the opportunity to see Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alosno at work first hand, when he was serving as a test driver for McLaren in 2007.
He will also work alongside Alonso next year, when he becomes Aston Martin team ambassador.
De la Rosa says these two world champions are “special”.
“I still say they are special,” he said.
“From the guys I worked with, definitely very special. Not every new driver that comes into Formula 1 is special.
“It’s difficult to detect because all the drivers that come into Formula 1 have probably been special at one point in Formula 2, Formula 3, whatever.
“But then the reality comes when you’re with these monsters [Hamilton and Alonso].”
Asked what makes Hamilton and Alonso different, the Spaniard explained:
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“Adaptability…track conditions change. It’s the fact every time you put on a new, or used, set of tyres, a good driver will need one lap and you think ‘okay, the next one I can brake here or there’…
“It’s too late, the track has changed, tyres have degraded, you have less fuel in the car, whatever.
“The good driver just has this sense that the grip is there. It’s difficult to explain, but they know where the grip is without making too many mistakes because you can go over the limit.
“And then it starts raining, or you have front graining, or for example when the track is drying, it’s incredible how these drivers know where the grip is and actually make the gap bigger to the rest of the field.
“But the problem is the next lap, or the next 10 seconds, the track is a bit different, so it’s difficult to judge from the outside because the track evolves more than the quality difference between them,” de La Rosa concluded.