Pedro De la Rosa is convinced he can succeed as the second oldest driver in Formula One after signing for Sauber.
|De la Rosa, right, will no longer be in the shadow of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, left [GALLO/GETTY]
The 38-year-old Spaniard joined Sauber earlier this week after spending the past five years as a test driver for McLaren.
He said he could "feel the adrenaline pumping through my system already.''
"I would not be here if I did not think I still had what it takes,'' De la Rosa said on Thursday.
"I have a huge amount of motivation.''
De la Rosa called signing for Sauber a rollercoaster ride after being in talks with several teams since last year. But it was Sauber president Peter Sauber who came through as promised after securing the team's spot on the starting grid.
"I think that it is very important to be back racing in Formula One, but it is more important to be back racing with a competitive team like BMW Sauber,'' said De la Rosa, who believes his experience provides a "massive asset'' with the team also running young Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi.
De la Rosa has competed in 72 races for Arrows, Jaguar and McLaren since 1999 with a career-best second-place finish in Hungary in 2006.
He spent five years as a test driver at McLaren, getting behind the wheel of the British car for nine races in 2005 and '06.
"The reason I became a test driver was because I always wanted to go back racing,'' De la Rosa said.
"My motivation for testing was to keep on believing in myself and believing that this could happen.''
De la Rosa is staying realistic of his chances ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 14, although he expects to fight for points at some point.
"I need to spend more time with the team and with the people,'' he said.
"I need to learn more about the 2010 car, and we'll need to wait until we start testing in February to answer this question.''
De la Rosa will be the second oldest driver on the grid after 41-year-old Michael Schumacher, who is also returning after a three-year absence.
Both drivers last raced at the 2006 Brazilian GP.