Pedro de la Rosa insists that he will remain with HRT for the 2013 season and is in no rush to leave F1 – arguing that the next time he leaves the sport, it will be for good.
The former McLaren test driver signed up with HRT at the start of the year to help lead a rebuilding programme that has seen it finally secure a base on Spanish soil, which it moved into earlier this season.
Under new management, the team has effectively been starting at square one again but having failed to qualify for the opening race of the year in Australia, de la Rosa has made steady progress to end up fighting Marussia pair Charles Pic and Timo Glock on track.
Speaking to the German publication Motorsport-Total.com
, de la Rosa insisted he was keen to keep his F1 career going as long as possible before he looks at racing elsewhere and said he was eager to help HRT take further steps forward up the order.
“I want to stay as long as possible in F1,” he said. “I'll never be too old for sportscars but it is only a limited time in F1. I can always drive sportscars but when I leave Formula One, I will not return.
“Next year I'll stay here with HRT. I signed a two-year contract, otherwise it would have made no sense. That was one of my basic terms when I joined them. I wanted a two-year contract because I see it as long-term. Next year we will be better and also the year after that.”
De la Rosa added that his ultimate dream would be lead HRT to its first points finish, although he conceded that the team would need to grow in order to work its way into the midfield.
"On the day where the team is in the top ten, I would be the happiest person in the world,” he said. “It is my goal to lead this team into the top 10 - that would mean that it has grown massively from scratch. That would make me very happy because it would mean that the first, very important goal has been achieved.
“We are growing, because we are a very small team and we have only 75 people. We need at least twice that number so we can think about such possibilities. We have to be larger and require at least one or two more years. Two years is more realistic, but we're trying to speed up the process.
The experienced Spaniard also expressed concern about how smaller teams would cope when new engine regulations come into play in 2014.
“2013 is good, because there are no major changes, but 2014 is bad for the small teams because we have to change the car completely - and also the engine,” he said. “That is very expensive for us. It is not good but it is in the rules, and we must adapt. Everything is expensive, which is bad for small teams like us.”