Colin Kolles insists that the signing of Pedro de la Rosa is a big step forwards for HRT for the 2012 F1 season.

The Spaniard will return to a race seat after agreeing a two-year deal to move from McLaren [See separate story HERE] and Kolles said his experience would key in helping the team make progress in the year ahead.

"The team's objective has always been to reinforce itself in every aspect: economically, technically and in a sporting aspect," he said. "Without a doubt, the addition of Pedro de la Rosa for next year will be a fundamental foundation in the development of our project.

Related Articles

"We are a young team that needs to continue progressing and with this incorporation I am convinced that we will do just that. Apart from being a great person he is an experienced driver as his career and prestige in Formula 1 prove. I give him my most sincere welcome. I am sure that he will adapt perfectly and that together we will achieve great things."

De la Rosa was also praised by his current boss at McLaren, Martin Whitmarsh, who insisted he would be missed within the Woking-based team.

"Pedro's contribution to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been fantastically valuable - perhaps even more valuable than may be apparent to outsiders in fact - ever since he joined us in 2003," he said. "As a test driver, he's been extraordinarily hard-working - on track and, latterly, more often, in our simulator - and his feedback has been reliable and expert.

"But his contributions have gone wider and deeper than that: Pedro is the archetypal team player, a big motivational presence in our team, and, perhaps because of that, he's someone whom I personally will always count as a true friend.

"In 2010 and 2011 he drove some races for the Sauber team - and, although he's always approached his test and development work with McLaren with energy and enthusiasm, he remains a racer at heart. For that reason, we understand and support his decision to join HRT as a race driver, and we wish him well. It goes without saying, however, that he'll be missed."