Nov.22 (GMM/Inautonews.com) HRT has surprised the F1 world by announcing Pedro de la Rosa as one of its race drivers for the 2012 season.

The 40-year-old Catalan returned to his regular role as McLaren’s long-time reserve driver this year after an abortive racing comeback in 2010 with Sauber.

HRT, the back-of-the-grid Spanish team that this season was bought from Jose Ramon Carabante by Thesen Capital, said de la Rosa will be racing not only in 2012 but also 2013.

The team said his signing is a “fundamental pillar” in HRT’s “renewed project”.

“I want to thank (McLaren boss) Martin (Whitmarsh) for giving me the opportunity to follow my heart,” said de la Rosa. “Without them (McLaren) I wouldn’t be here today.”