Pedro de la Rosa says moving to the HRT team is not a step back, although he concedes it will be a huge challenge getting the Spanish squad closer to the midfield.
De la Rosa, who was McLaren's reserve driver, will return to racing next year after securing a two-year contract with HRT. The team has been racing at the bottom of the field since its debut in 2010, but de la Rosa insists he does not think he is taking a step back.
He said he is eager to start working on the Spanish project.
"Not at all," de la Rosa told Spain's COPE radio network when asked if his move was a step back. "We have to leave those things aside and start working, which is what I've always liked.
"It's a Spanish project and that to me says it all. It's an honest project. It's a project in which we are not going to be selling smoke: It's a Spanish Formula 1 team. We are last at the moment, but there is a plan for the upcoming two years to make progress and that is all."
Although the 40-year-old is aware that racing with HRT will be a big challenge, he insisted he is really excited about the project.
"It's a huge challenge. I could have stayed at McLaren, but I wanted to do this a lot more," he said. "It's much harder but it's also much more interesting.
"It's David versus Goliath, but it's also a reason to be proud to be fighting against teams which are much more powerful, with a much bigger budget and who have been building Formula 1 cars for 50 years. That's why we are starting from scratch. We have to start with modesty, knowing where we stand, with an ambition to grow, to improve. We are not here to make up the numbers.
"The important thing is to grow and to make progress. You can't fool the fans or ourselves thinking that in four days we are going to find three or four seconds per lap. This takes time, and it takes a restructuring and getting stronger as a team."
De la Rosa, whose team was unable to test its new cars prior to the start of its first two seasons in Formula 1, conceded the new regulations will make it harder for all teams to be ready for the first test of 2012. Next year, new cars will have to pass all mandatory crash tests before running in official testing, which means their chassis will have to be homologated earlier than in previous years in order to start running in February. De la Rosa reckons not only HRT is facing a race against time.
"I don't think there's any team that is convinced what is going to happen in February, because the rules have changed and you have to pass all crash tests and homologate it before the first test. But this is tough for all teams. So others can have the same doubts that we have.
"But we are planning to be ready. If we don't pass the crash tests we will see during January. It's a tough situation and it's a challenge for all teams, not just for HRT."