Yesterday was Pedro de la Rosa’s first appearance in the colours of Scuderia Ferrari and it must have felt a far less stressful occasion than the same time last year, as he looked down the barrel of season with HRT wondering just how far they’d get before the money ran out.

As it was, the team reached the final race in Brazil, where Pedro and team mate Narain Karthikeyan successfully finished for the ninth time that season.

In 2013, the Spaniard joins Scuderia Ferrari for test, reserve driving and other commercial duties, making this his sixth team in Formula One (including Arrows, Jaguar, McLaren, Sauber and HRT).

De la Rosa is often referred to as a journeyman, which seems a little unfair for someone who finished as high as second place in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Unfortunately, given the rules of modern F1, he’ll spend most of his year sitting in the simulator at Maranello, but he does get a chance to drive the 2013 car on 8th February, when he joins Felipe Massa at the first pre-season test in Jerez.

Ferrari fired up their new 2013 engine last Wednesday (23rd January) and seem well prepared for its first track outing next week.

“I’ve seen the new car in the factory, as it is being prepared for the first test,” said De la Rosa, “I am very happy to be able to test it and honestly I had not expected that. It’s a unique opportunity to begin to understand how the car works and how I can help with the work in the simulator.”

Yesterday he met Scuderia Ferrari’s most important sponsors, at the “Beca Santander Jovenes Promesas” ceremony in Madrid, along with the director of Ferrari’s Driver Academy, Luca Baldisserri.

At the event Santander announced the renewal of their sponsorship contracts with Marc Gené and Pedro de la Rosa, both of whom have worked with the bank for many years making special appearances and supporting its charitable endeavours.

I am proud and very happy, mainly because Ferrari is more than just a Formula 1 team,” said De la Rosa. “I’m starting a new phase of my life: for a driver it’s important to work with the big teams, especially because you can learn from the best engineers and professionals in this sport. I am proud that Ferrari had faith in me, especially as it means I will be able to help a Spanish champion, in the shape of Fernando Alonso.”

“At Ferrari, winning is the only thing that matters. Every time I go to Maranello there is something to learn and it’s a continual experience. Even if I cannot say much, because I have only known Ferrari for a short time, I can say that, at least once in your life, you have to go to Maranello. I’m not talking about the factory, but rather the city: it’s there that you start to understand the difference between a team like Ferrari and all the others, because you already feel as though you are pretty much within the company. Every restaurant, bar or person on the street has something red: it’s really impressive!”

De la Rosa will share testing duties at Jerez with Felipe Massa, which Fernando Alonso will not attend, choosing instead to focus on his physical fitness and preparations for the season ahead.