- HRT surprises F1 by signing McLaren's de la Rosa
- Liuzzi, Clos or Red Bull to complete HRT lineup?
- Senna hopes to keep Renault/Lotus seat for 2012
- Rosberg not worried career could echo Heidfeld's
- Hopeful Hulkenberg returns to scene of maiden pole
HRT surprises F1 by signing McLaren's de la Rosa
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."
Liuzzi, Clos or Red Bull to complete HRT lineup?
With Pedro de la Rosa confirmed for one seat, attention is now turning to which of HRT's existing race drivers will be ousted after this weekend's 2011 season finale.
Vitantonio Liuzzi revealed last time out in Abu Dhabi that he has a contract with the Spanish team for 2012.
"We knew when we started that it could not be just a one-year situation if we wanted to improve," said the Italian, a former Force India and Red Bull driver.
"The team hired me to help them develop and bring experience in the team and I think everything is going well and everything is looking positive for the future," added Liuzzi.
His teammate at the moment is Daniel Ricciardo, who was placed at HRT earlier this year after the team reached an agreement with Red Bull "as a support for the development of its driver".
It is believed that the current agreement with HRT is only for 2011, and that Red Bull driver manager Dr Helmut Marko has not decided if it will be renewed for 2012.
If it is, Ricciardo could stay but the Australian might also graduate to Toro Rosso, with newcomer Jean-Eric Vergne placed alongside de la Rosa.
Yet another candidate for HRT could be Dani Clos, a 23-year-old GP2 driver who alongside de la Rosa would complete an all-Spanish lineup for HRT in 2012.
He tested the current car in Abu Dhabi last week and afterwards insisted he is "prepared to take the step" into full-time F1.
"But there are many factors that decide whether a driver makes it into F1 or not," Clos conceded.
"It's not impossible and I would love to be involved at some level, if it's not as an official driver then as a test driver, whilst also competing in another category."
As for HRT, he said the 2012 project "looks very promising".
"I think they are changing their car, headquarters and a few other things which will make the team more stable and attractive. Without a doubt these changes are for the better," added Clos.
Senna hopes to keep Renault/Lotus seat for 2012
Bruno Senna has admitted he is hoping to be retained by Renault for 2012.
The Brazilian stepped into the black and gold R31 earlier this season to replace Nick Heidfeld, who had been signed as injured regular Robert Kubica's initial substitute.
Senna, 28, has had mixed form during his seven races so far in 2011, describing his season as "interesting" on Brazilian SporTV.
"In terms of learning, it has been very difficult," he conceded on the sports programme Arena.
"I started in the middle and had to learn to use KERS and the moving wing (DRS), and the lack of experience and mileage impaired me a little," said Senna, ahead of his second home race at Interlagos this weekend.
And his thoughts are already set beyond the season finale, with his mother Viviane revealing last week that they are in negotiations with Renault for 2012.
"I have no contract with any team for next year," Senna clarified. "The intention is to stay at Renault," he added, referring to the Enstone based team that in 2012 will be called Lotus.
"In formula one it is all about performance, and the team is happy with mine."
In a separate interview, he told O Estado de S.Paulo: "I am trying my hardest to stay in this seat.
"It depends on (Robert) Kubica, on (Romain) Grosjean, on sponsorship, a lot of things that, unfortunately, are not under my control.
"We have to get all the factors coming together," the Paulista explained.
On injured Pole Kubica's possible 2012 return, Senna added: "The team isn't going to wait until the middle of next year to decide. I hope it doesn't take too long."
Rosberg not worried career could echo Heidfeld's
Nico Rosberg insists he has no "fear" his promising F1 career might end as countryman Nick Heidfeld's did - without a single win.
German Heidfeld contested more than 180 Grands Prix until this season without ever standing at the top step of the podium.
Now with more than half of Heidfeld's race tally, 26-year-old Rosberg has shown promisingly alongside Michael Schumacher in the past two years and has signed on with Mercedes for even longer.
But is he worried his career might end as Heidfeld's did?
"Fear? No, why should I be afraid?" he told the Kolner Express newspaper. "I think Nick had a good career.
"I'm not sitting here thinking this is it. I am here with total conviction that I will keep doing a good job and keep developing. And we'll see in the end what comes of it."
However, it must rankle Rosberg that, despite his arguably more successful formative career, the two-year-younger Sebastian Vettel came into F1 and quickly found a car to race to two consecutive drivers' titles.
"No, not even a little bit," insisted Rosberg when asked if he is envious. "That is completely foreign to me.
"I don't compare us as I am satisfied with my own situation. And I am convinced that my time will come."
But if that time doesn't arrive by the end of 2013, it is rumoured that Rosberg's new contract allows him to walk away if he can find a better seat.
"I don't want to say anything about any numbers or whatever," he insisted. "And what's that about 'probation'? The motto now is 'full throttle'!"
Hopeful Hulkenberg returns to scene of maiden pole
Nico Hulkenberg will this weekend return to the asphalt that delivered his maiden pole position a year ago.
Interlagos was the penultimate race of 2010 and also the second-last in the 24-year-old's rookie season with Williams - and he duly conquered qualifying in tricky damp conditions.
One race later, he was soon to be replaced over the winter off-season by Pastor Maldonado, Hulkenberg's successor as GP2 champion and backed by millions of Venezuelan dollars.
The gutted Hulkenberg decamped to Force India, where in 2011 he has been driving the Mercedes-powered car on most Friday mornings.
"Yes, I am replacing (Adrian) Sutil (this weekend) - for 90 minutes," Hulkenberg joked to Blick newspaper, aware of the raging speculation that he will be replacing his experienced countryman full-time in 2012.
One of his 43,000 followers on Twitter commented: "Poor choice by Force India. Everybody knows you perform way better on Saturdays in Brazil."
Triple world champion Niki Lauda agreed: "We need to see this fast guy in a good race car next season."
Hulkenberg said: "I have to race in 2012. I want to prove what I can do."