Tonio Liuzzi has been confirmed at HRT for 2011, putting an end to weeks of speculation about the team's second driver.
It looked as though Liuzzi might be left without a drive this year after Paul di Resta replaced him at Force India over the winter. The HRT was the only remaining seat on the grid and, after a successful test at Barcelona two weeks ago, the team has finally confirmed that Liuzzi will partner Narain Karthikeyan this season.
"I am really happy to have signed this agreement with Hispania Racing," he said. "I never lost hope to be in Formula One as I knew I have the experience and the right attributes for a young and ambitious team. I face a new challenge now and this excites me. I also face a lot of hard work in guiding Hispania Racing through the development of our new car. I am extremely grateful to José Ramon Carabante and to Colin Kolles for giving me such an opportunity."
Team boss Colin Kolles said Liuzzi would bring experience of how to move HRT up the grid after stints at Toro Rosso and Force India.
"I have known Tonio for many years as he raced with me in lower categories," he said. "He is a very professional driver who will bring a lot of benefits to the team. I am convinced about his skills to develop a car and his speed. He has shown this in the past having contributed to a large extent developing and moving a back grid car to the front. I had the pleasure of working with him and I am very happy and proud to have him racing with Hispania Racing."
The team also confirmed its 2011 car will be launched in the Barcelona pit lane at lunchtime on Friday. HRT will then have one and half days of pre-season testing to prove the F111, but Liuzzi said he was prepared for the task ahead.
"In my F1 career I'm used to starting from scratch and we'll work twice as hard to find speed and reliability, I know full well that Rome wasn't built in a day. " Liuzzi said. "Of course it's not a helpful situation; it's a bit like a puzzle where we have to put all the pieces together now."
The finalised line-up means Christian Klien misses out, having driven for the team in three races in 2010. Klien admitted to being disappointed but said he was still looking to be in Formula One as a reserve driver.
"We must keep our heads up and go forward," he said. "I have said before that F1 is still the goal, and if the race seat does not work out, I will push hard for a third driver role with a clear perspective to run F1 races again sometime soon. It is not the happest day of my F1 career but then again it is by no means the end of all days."