November 22, 2011
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Pedro de la Rosa is to re-enter the F1 paddock next year with the HRT team.
The Spaniard, now 40 years old, has now made 4 comebacks into Formula 1. He has signed a 2-year contract with the team, having driven as a test driver for McLaren between 2003 and 2009, and 2011.
He made a one-off appearance at Sauber in Canada this year, substituting for the injured Sergio Perez. De la Rosa cited the Spanish roots of the team, as well as knowing several people involved in the team, as one of the reasons he made the move:
"This is a very important step in my sporting career and one of the most
meditated ones I’ve taken. 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.
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
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."
This appears to be a shift by HRT to a more long-term driver setup, rather than the disposable pay drivers that have littered the team so far.
This also leaves Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo in doubt regarding their race seats. Several news outlets report that Liuzzi is close to a deal, while Ricciardo is more likely to move to Toro Rosso.