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Bahrain blow for Montoya 30 Mar 2005

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren MP4/19B. Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 24 November 2004. World © Hartley/Sutton Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 3 March 2005 (L to R): Alex Wurz (AUT) McLaren Test Driver and Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Practice Day, Imola, Italy, 23 April 2004 Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 4 March 2005 Alex Wurz (AUT) McLaren Test Driver. Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 1 April 2004. World © Moy/Sutton

De la Rosa to get long-awaited race comeback

McLaren have confirmed that Pedro de la Rosa will replace Juan Pablo Montoya for this weekend’s race as the Colombian recovers from a shoulder injury he sustained last weekend. Alexander Wurz will step up as the team’s third driver in Friday practice.

Montoya suffered a minor hairline fracture to his left scapula (shoulder blade) after falling while playing tennis with his trainer last Saturday. Following a number of tests, scans and an examination by one of McLaren's medical consultants, the team has been advised that he should rest to allow for the injury to heal. He is expected to return for the San Marino Grand Prix on April 24.

"I'm obviously disappointed not to be able to race this coming weekend,” said Montoya. “However driving a Formula One car is hard work and it would be impossible to do with my injury and whilst it's difficult, we have to follow the advice from the medical experts.

“I'm going to take it easy for a few weeks and cheer for the team in front of the TV. I'm already looking forward to getting back into action as soon as possible. At least it's early in the season and a lot can happen, so I don't think my championship challenge is over."

For de la Rosa, Sunday will mark his first Grand Prix start since Japan 2002, his final race with Jaguar. The Spaniard got the nod for the drive over colleague Wurz due to his extensive testing experience this year in the current MP4-20 car.

“As one of the test drivers for Team McLaren Mercedes this is really an extension of my existing track side responsibilities,” said de la Rosa. “I'm looking forward to the challenge of racing in Bahrain and will do my best.

“It will be a new experience as I have not competed in Bahrain before. I know the team and the car very well from our comprehensive testing programme and hopefully we will be able to put in a strong performance. I'm definitely going to enjoy this opportunity as much as I can."

For Wurz, first practice in Bahrain will be his very first taste of the MP4-20. So far this season he has been testing in the older MP4-19B, as the team worked to modify the cockpit of the new car to accommodate the Austrian’s 1.86 metre frame. He is expected to share third driver duties with de la Rosa at the remaining races this year.

"It goes without saying that I would have preferred to be the one racing the MP4-20 at the Bahrain Grand Prix,” said Wurz. “However the team and I agreed this was the best solution for this race and I am excited that I will be able to drive the MP4-20 for the first time on Friday in Bahrain. Like the rest of the team I also want to wish Juan Pablo all the best."

McLaren head to the Bahrain Grand Prix sixth in the constructors’ championship with nine points, all but one of them scored by Montoya, who lies joint third in the driver standings.