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De la Rosa joins HRT for 2012
Veteran McLaren test and reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa will drive for HRT in 2012 after agreeing a two-year contract with the team.
De la Rosa, 40, began his career with Arrows in 1999, and after a spell at Jaguar he then moved to McLaren as a test driver. He competed in eight races in 2006 but then remained test driver until moving to Sauber in 2010. He didn't see out the season - being replaced by Nick Heidfeld from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards - but he did return for a one-off race to replace the unwell Sergio Perez in Canada despite having resumed his role as McLaren test driver. In all, he has started 85 grands prix, finishing once on the podium.
With HRT's current owners Thesan Capital moving the team to Valencia, it has now announced that de la Rosa will be one of the race drivers next season, and he said the chance to race for a Spanish team was too good an opportunity to turn down.
"This is a very important step in my sporting career and one of the most meditated ones I've taken," de la Rosa said. "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 Pérez-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. 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.
"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. Lastly, I can't forget to thank McLaren for allowing me to take this step. 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."
Team principal Colin Kolles said that de la Rosa would "be a fundamental foundation" for the team to progress. "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 1 prove. I give him my most sincere welcome. I am sure that he will adapt perfectly and that together we will achieve great things."