Pedro de la Rosa says he is extremely excited about joining HRT as a racing driver, despite conceding that both he and the team have a huge task ahead.
The Spanish veteran was announced as an HRT driver for the next two seasons in what will be his return to racing after a short stint at Sauber last year. De la Rosa, 40, lost his seat before the end of the season, first moving to Pirelli as its development driver and then returning to McLaren as its reserve.
He says he is aware of the difficulty of making HRT grow, but is very excited to be part of the team.
"Returning to the active competition is something that makes me very happy and even more so to do it with a Spanish team," said de la Rosa. "The first time we spoke in July, I didn't see myself as part of this project. However, meeting [team CEO] Saul and the fact that Luis [Perez Sala], one of my idols, is part of the team, finding out more about the project and to see that, little by little, what they told me was materializing is what convinced me. I said to myself, I have to be there.
"It's a huge task but also a fascinating and meditated one. We know that it's not going to be easy but I'm going to contribute work, experience and effort to grow together. And I hope that we can receive everyone's support so that in the near future we can feel proud of ourselves.
"I've come to stay and I want to thank HRT for trusting in me, but also McLaren because without them I wouldn't be here and thanks to them, today I am a better driver."
HRT made its Formula 1 debut at the start of last season and has raced at the back of the field since then. The Spanish squad changed ownership this year, however, and has plans to move its operation to Valencia.
Team CEO Saul Ruiz de Marcos said the team had desired de la Rosa since the change of ownership earlier this season.
"I'm very excited to have been able to announce Pedro as an HRT driver," he said. "Since we arrived a few months ago, one of the pillars upon which we wanted to base the project was having Pedro in the team. From day one, we got straight down to work to try and convince him and, after four months of negotiations, I am very proud to have achieved it.
"We are on the right path, taking every step at a time and turning the project we had in mind at the beginning into reality. We are working discretely, with humility and analysis and every decision made has been premeditated to ensure that it is correct. I think we are on the right track to becoming a great Spanish team in one year's time."
Perez Sala, who joined the team as an advisor earlier this year, said he was very proud to have convinced de la Rosa to join HRT.
"We joined this project back in August and tried to convince Pedro to come on board from day one," the former grand prix driver said. "It wasn't easy as he was very happy at McLaren but, in the end, he's decided to join us and I'm very proud to have him on our team for the next two years.
"When we took on this project in August, we thought that it was necessary to define a strategy and set some solid bases and Pedro was a key factor for this project to be viable. He is a driver with a lot of talent and his experience of over 12 years in F1 will help us to grow in the right path."