Pedro de la Rosa has told Spanish F1 fans to stop living in the past and appreciate that they have two drivers on the F1 grid in Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz.
And while they aren’t winning World titles at the moment, there are still race wins and podium results.
The last time Spain celebrated a World Champion was back in 2006 when Alonso won his second successive championship with Renault. He went onto record runner-up results in 2007 with McLaren and twice with Ferrari in 2010 and 2012 but wasn’t able to add a third title to his tally.
This season Spain could be in the hunt but with a different driver, Sainz.
Last year the 28-year-old clinched his maiden race win, P1 at the British Grand Prix, while overall he managed nine podium results.
De la Rosa says Spanish fans should appreciate that they have two drivers rather than lament the 16-year draught for World Championship titles.
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“It seems in Spain,” he told AS, “because people live from 2005, 2006 and 2007, two World Championships were won in three years. And then 2010 and 2012.
“But we have to open our eyes and understand that this is Formula 1. Having a driver is incredible, to have one win and make podiums is amazing. And we have two!”
He continued: “The problem we have in Spain is that many times we live on memories, and we have to live in the present and look to the future. We have had two great drivers and the future is spectacular.
“I wish there were more drivers on the way because little is being invested in the base, but we have talent down there. Let’s enjoy it.
“I don’t want us to look at this era five years from now and say ‘do you remember when we had two drivers? Now that was a good time’.
“We are living a golden age in F1, we are not World Champions but we have to enjoy the moment, it is spectacular. A second golden age of Spanish motorsports in F1.
“People think that it is impossible to relive 2005 and 2006, but we are living it right now. Although some do not want to realise it.”
The Spaniard, a former F1 driver turned commentator, says he’s enjoying being able to commentate on races where Spaniards are fighting near the front of the field.
“There is nothing more beautiful than commentating on races with our drivers on the track,” he said. “I have spent many years commenting on races without Spaniards and there is nothing sadder.
“Now I have the luxury of commenting on races with Spaniards who are fighting for pole positions, podiums and victories. It is incredible, it is a luxury and we would have to pinch ourselves and tell ourselves that this is true.”
More Spanish wins in 2023 but no World Champion
Alonso and Sainz will line up on the 2023 Formula 1 grid with Spain tied on 11th on the list of the most grand prix wins by country.
The European country has 33, 32 from Alonso and 1 from Sainz, with the record belonging to the United Kingdom with a whopping 308 wins.
Of the two, though, only Sainz will be in the race for victories this season.
Spain should overhaul the United States this season, Sainz expected to add one if not three to his tally as Ferrari continue on their recovery road towards a title fight.
But Spanish fans will have to celebrate those individual wins as the chances of Sainz fighting for the title this season after slim to Max Verstappen. Maybe in 2024, but not this season.