APRIL 19, 2001
De la Rosa in at Jaguar as Burti moves to Prost
PEDRO DE LA ROSA's promotion to a full time member of the Jaguar formula one team has been dramatically accelerated with the announcement that he will replace Luciano Burti as Eddie Irvine's team-mate as from the Spanish grand prix at Barcelona on 29 April.
Burti is being released from his contract and will transfer to the Prost formula one team where he is expected to replace the uncompetitive Argentine driver Gaston Mazzacane alongside the veteran Jean Alesi.
Rahal has been working on this deal behind the scenes for the past 48 hours, despite assurances from his colleague Niki Lauda who confirmed that Burti's place in the team was secure to the end of the year.
"It's great to have Pedro on board and I'm confident in his ability to do an excellent job for us," said Rahal. "He has already demonstrated his capability in the car, albeit as a test driver so far this year, and I am sure he will acquit himself well throughout the balance of this year and 2002."
"This is a wonderful opportunity for me and lays to rest the speculation that has surrounded my recent movements in formula one," said de la Rosa.
"I came to Jaguar racing because the long-term potential in the team is obvious and I believe Bobby Rahal and the team are fully focused on the job in hand. I must emphasize the crucial role that Bobby has played in the negotiations that have brought me to this point. There was a lot of hard work that went on behind the scenes and Bobby was instrumental in pulling this deal off.
"Since joining the team I have had an excellent relationship with Luciano and I would like to extend my very best wishes to him for the future."
Team insiders see this as a neat way of instantly recruiting an experienced and seasoned formula one team-mate for Irvine which will hopefully prompt the Ulsterman to raise his game.
Transferring Burti also pacifies Prost who originally believed they had a deal for de la Rosa to become their test driver this season. Prost claimed he had a verbal agreement with the Spaniard and briefly threatened to sue after de la Rosa signed a Jaguar contract.
"I want to wish Luciano the very best for the future," added Rahal. "Luciano has made a valuable contribution to this team and our appreciation for his services cannot be overstated.
"He is a tremendous young man who has a great future ahead of him in formula one."
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