Pedro de la Rosa hopes that his F1 career won't have ended with the closure of the HRT team at the end of the 2012 season.
The experienced Spaniard threw his lot in with the Madrid-based minnow in a bid to help raise the squad's Spanish profile, but it was unable to attract the backing it needed to survive beyond the Brazilian Grand Prix in November and, unable to find a buyer, owner Thesan Capital decided to cut its losses and shut the team down.
Although he has now started over 100 grands prix, de la Rosa is better known as one of the premier test and development drivers in F1, having been a key player in McLaren's recent success, but he does not expect to simply waltz back into a similar role now that he is back on the market.
“One must know how to move on and look forward, but it is true that I am a realist and everything that has happened has been very unpleasant for everyone who works at HRT,” he told Spain's Marca
newspaper, “There are very few years in my career that I've eaten grapes knowing what I was going to do next year. So it's hard, but it's normal.
“I took a road and I live with my decision, so I'm not going to expect McLaren to throw its doors open wide, especially because I've left them twice. I've been unfaithful and so I must start from scratch. It is normal.
“However, I am confident that I will continue in F1 as a test driver or reserve. I think I will continue with a steering wheel in my hands, but there is no guarantee of anything.”
de la Rosa admits that, while he always knew that HRT was struggling financially, it was particularly sad to see the project go under. Trying to establish a Spanish team at a time of economic strife and widespread unemployment in the country, however, was not the best timing.
“I don't know [exactly what is happening],” he said of the final throes at HRT, “I'm just the driver, and there ahs been no official notification, but we all have the feeling that the project isn't going to continue.
“It was an ambitious project, and we all tried hard. I have given everything - if had doubts that I had not given 100 percent, I would not sleep well, but is not the case. However, in the end, we are all a little responsible for what has happened.”
Of particular disappointment to the veteran was that HRT could not capitalise on the popularity of F1 in Spain given the success of Fernando Alonso.