Noviembre 21, 2011 (F1plus Team).- HRT has confirmed on Monday that Pedro de la Rosa will make a Formula 1 return by driving for the team for the entirety of the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The Barcelona native last GP was at Montreal when he replaced and ill Sergio Pérez on Sauber.
Since the squad formerly known as Hispania Racing was bought out by Spanish firm Thesan Capital, the company has stressed that at least one Spanish driver would be on the grid by no later than the start of the 2013 season.
The return of de la Rosa - who will be 41 when the new campaign gets underway - marks a comeback for a driver with 85 Grand Prix starts already behind him, ending his second stint as McLaren’s reserve driver; his signing has been described as a ‘long desired target’ and ‘fundamental pillar’ for the HRT’s latest restructuring.
“This is a very important step in my sporting career and one of the most meditated ones I’ve taken,” says 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 active competition, the fact that HRT is a Spanish team and getting to know the people leading this project, (former driver) 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.”
De la Rosa’s F1 debut came with Arrows in 1999, scoring a point in his first race, before replacing Luciano Burti at Jaguar five races into 2001. He joined McLaren as tester in 2003, replacing the absent Juan Pablo Montoya for the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix plus the final eight races of 2006, finishing second to Button in Hungary.
In 2010, he made his first racing comeback with Sauber, but was dropped in favor of Nick Heidfeld after the Italian Grand Prix that was followed by a short stint as Pirelli’s tyre tester, but then he re-signed as McLaren reserve.
This year De La Rosa was called while he was having lunch just before the second practice session for the Canadian GP to replace Sergio Pérez at Sauber for the rest of the weekend. He finished with a decent 12th in wet conditions.