Pedro de la Rosa is to leave his current position as McLaren test driver and return to the grid next season with the HRT team. De la Rosa, who will be 41 when he begins his 2012 campaign, is a veteran of 85 Grand Prix starts and last raced with Sauber at this year’s Canadian round.
The Spaniard last completed a full season of Formula One competition in 2002 with Jaguar, but has since made numerous race and test appearances for McLaren and Sauber. He will join HRT in January on a two-year contract.
“This is a very important step in my sporting career and one of the most meditated ones I’ve taken,” said De la Rosa. “I’m at a very good stage in terms of maturity and am prepared to take on this challenge, which motivates me hugely.
“When deciding on joining this project, for me there were three decisive factors: my desire to return to the active competition, the fact that HRT is a Spanish team and getting to know the people leading this project, Luis Perez-Sala being amongst them. I’m here to work hard, with modesty and humility, accepting where we are now but keeping in mind where we want to be in two years’ time.”
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal, commented: “The team’s objective has always been to reinforce itself in every aspect: economically, technically and in a sporting aspect. Without a doubt, the addition of Pedro de la Rosa for next year will be a fundamental foundation in the development of our project.
“We are a young team that needs to continue progressing and with this incorporation I am convinced that we will do just that. Apart from being a great person he is an experienced driver as his career and prestige in Formula One prove. I give him my most sincere welcome. I am sure that he will adapt perfectly and that together we will achieve great things.”
HRT entered Formula One in 2010. They recently announced an enhanced technical collaboration with Williams for 2012 and are establishing new headquarters in Spain. Reaching an agreement with De la Rosa, from Barcelona, has long been targeted by the team as part of their renewal project, which began in July after they were acquired by new owners Thesan Capital.
“For me, this is the time to put into practice everything that I have learnt over the years at international top level racing teams so that we can grow together,” continued De la Rosa. “I am proud that Spain has an F1 team and that I have this opportunity to be its driver. I can only show my gratitude towards HRT for having trusted in me for this.”
De la Rosa made his F1 race debut with Arrows in 1999 and despite spending much of his career as a test driver has scored 35 world championship points, with a best result of second place for McLaren at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I can’t forget to thank McLaren for allowing me to take this step,” concluded De la Rosa. “I have been very happy over the eight seasons I spent with them, growing as a driver and person. Without them I wouldn’t be here today.”