Narain Karthikeyan will fill the final racing seat of the 2012 season after he was confirmed at HRT on Friday morning. The Indian will partner Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa at the team, which will enter its third Formula 1 season this year.
Karthikeyan started the 2011 season as a racing driver for the team, but was dropped after the European Grand Prix, the eighth round of the championship, in favor of Australian rookie Daniel Ricciardo.
The 35-year-old from Chennai returned to racing for his home grand prix late in the season after four outings as a Friday driver. Together with 40-year-old de la Rosa he will form the oldest lineup on the grid this year.
"It has taken a lot of hard work to make this happen but I am absolutely elated to feature on the 2012 grid with HRT F1 team," said the Indian. "I was pleased with our strong performance at the Indian Grand Prix, in front of my passionate home fans and I look forward to building on this result in 2012.
"I have been training hard since the end of 2011, ensuring I was ready for the rigors of F1 if an opportunity arose. I am delighted to have signed with the HRT F1 team. With the new management, Pedro, and the team, there is definite potential for progress.
"We need to understand that F1 is new to India, we hosted our first race only last year which was a resounding success. To build on that momentum, an Indian driver will certainly keep the interest engaged throughout the season. I am proud to secure an opportunity to forge a stronger connection between India and Formula 1 once again."
Team boss Luiz Perez-Sala added: "I am pleased to count with Narain for this season, as he will contribute continuity and stability. He is a quick, intuitive and secure driver who met his expectations despite a lack of continuity last year. Of the eight grands prix he contested in 2011, he only failed to finish on one occasion and had a great performance in the last race he took part in.
"I'm sure that the fact that he will continue to work and drive on a regular basis will help him take a step forward this season. And, if he advances, so does the team. This is a year in which you could say that the team starts from scratch and everyone's input will be fundamental."