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De la Rosa secures HRT drive

Pedro de la Rosa will return to an F1 race seat for 2012 after agreeing a two-year deal with HRT

Pedro de la Rosa will make a return to F1 next season after signing a two-year deal with HRT.

De la Rosa, who made a brief return to a race seat last year with Sauber before being replaced mid-season by Nick Heidfeld, although he did make a one-off outing in Canada earlier this year in place of the injured Sergio Perez.

The deal sees HRT bring a Spanish driver onboard for the first time and de la Rosa admitted he was excited at the prospect of returning a race seat for 2012.

"This is a very important step in my sporting career and one of the most meditated ones I've taken," he 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 Perez-Sala [HRT sports advisor] 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."

De la Rosa will join his new team in January, bringing to an end his time with McLaren, who he rejoined earlier this year as reserve driver having been involved with the Woking-based outfit for a number of years prior to his stint with Sauber.

"After more than a decade in Formula 1, I'll always think of Woking as a second home," he said. "I'd like to take this opportunity to thank sincerely everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for helping me develop into a much more complete driver, and person, than I was when I first joined the team back in 2003.

"Of course, the happiest McLaren moment for me personally was finishing second in Hungary in 2006, but I'm just as proud of helping Lewis [Hamilton] and the team to the 2008 drivers' world championship - a genuine team effort - and helping to develop a fantastic series of cars that won grands prix throughout my entire time with the team.

"Finally, I want to thank Martin [Whitmarsh] for giving me the opportunity to follow my heart. He's not only been one of my strongest supporters throughout my career, but also a very good friend to me and my family.

"I regard Vodafone McLaren Mercedes as the best and most professional team in Formula 1 and, while I'm proud to be taking on a new challenge in my life and career, there will always be a special place in my heart for my friends, the hard-working men and women of Woking, for whom I have a huge amount of respect and admiration."

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