Friday February 2nd, 2001
Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa, replaced this week at Arrows by Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi, looked unlikely on Friday to accept a drive for Minardi this year.
Minardi are considering an all-Spanish team of the 29-year-old and Fernando Alonso but De la Rosa has made it clear that planning for the 2002 season is a higher priority than securing a drive for this year.
"I thank Minardi for their interest, but I am not sure if it is the most interesting offer at the moment," De la Rosa was quoted as saying in Spanish newspapers on Friday.
"Right now I don't have a drive for 2001, but that doesn't mean I am going to take the first thing that comes my way. I consider that I have a certain prestige and I want to make the most of it."
The Spaniard, who has also been linked with the Prost team, said he may opt for the post of test driver this season in the hope of guaranteeing a drive in 2002.
"I would accept being a test driver today in a good team only if they would guarantee me a seat in the 2002 season," he said. "The most important thing right now is to see my future in Formula One. It is my priority and I have no time to waste."
De la Rosa, who was the Jordan team's test driver back in 1998, said that sponsorship behind Bernoldi had been the key to Arrows' decision to replace him.
"If a sponsor comes along prepared to invest more money and the team boss believes that getting a sponsor is more important than having a quality driver, then there is little I can do about it."
The driver was also upset that Arrows' announcement left him so little room for manoeuvre.
"This situation has occurred only a month before the beginning of the season. Announcing their decision so late is what has really hurt me. And that is my main complaint.
"I don't feel a victim, basically because I see more chances in the future," he added. "I'm not going to hide my anger though because this has happened a month before the start of the season.
"I had some offers this summer and I said no to them and now there are no seats free.
"But my main aim is to be world champion. It's surprising how I feel more motivated than ever and I'm probably at my highest level in terms of fitness and mental strength in my career.
"At the moment I'm focusing on my near future. We are all working hard to make things happen. I won't give up that easily."