HRT has completed the 2012 F1 grid by announcing that Narain Karthikeyan will partner Pedro de la Rosa for the season ahead.
Karthikeyan started the 2011 season with the team before being dropped in place of Daniel Ricciardo, although he then returned for a one-off outing in his home event in India.
The announcement that Karthikeyan will be back in a race seat this season means there is no place on the grid for Tonio Liuzzi, who had agreed a multi-year deal with the team at the start of 2011 when HRT was under different ownership.
“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,” Karthikeyan said. “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 rigours of F1 if an opportunity arose.
“I am delighted to have signed with 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 principal Luis Perez-Sala said he was pleased to sign Karthikeyan for the season ahead.
“I am pleased to count with Narain for this season, as he will contribute continuity and stability,” he said. “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.”