On 21 November 2011, De la Rosa signed a two-year contract to drive for the HRT F1 team, but he only remained with the team for one season, after HRT withdrew from the 2013 team list, leaving him without a drive for the 2013 season. On 16 January 2013, De la Rosa was announced as the Ferrari development driver for the 2013 Formula One season. De la Rosa, along with Michael Schumacher was the last F1 driver that had raced in the sport in the 1990s.
De la Rosa was born in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, and unlike most drivers, he started his career in radio-controlled cars, specialising in 1:8 off-road. He not just won three consecutive domestic championship titles between 1983 and 1985, he became the first multiple European radio controlled off-road championship twice in 1983 and 1984 and was runner up in the world championship in 1986. It was only after that when he started karting in a local Spanish championship in 1988 when he was 17. He then joined the Spanish Formula Fiat Uno and became champion in 1989.