Caterham F1 team driver Alexander Rossi will become the first American driver since Scott Speed to participate in a Grand Prix weekend, with the Hingham-based team announcing that the Californian will take part in the first practice session at next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The 20-year-old – who is contesting a second season in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship – has previously tested with the team (albeit in its Team Lotus guise) last year at the Abu Dhabi ‘Young Drivers’ test session, before he was later signed to the team’s roster of development drivers.
“It’s my true Formula 1 debut in the sense I’m competing in an official session with the other official drivers and with the team’s full capacity with the race engineers all present and everyone really looking to see my feedback and give my information on the car for the race weekend ahead,” said Rossi.
“And so I’m very excited about the opportunity but at the same time I am nervous and I do feel that there is an amount of pressure that goes on me. I’m kind of the first person that is in the car for the weekend and replacing Heikki [Kovalainen], that’s very big shoes to fill.
“The significance and importance of being able to be involved in a Formula 1 team and getting to drive in Friday practice is the fact that I’m able to be in my environment, in the race environment, with the full attention of being able to perform,” he added.
“That’s something you can’t very often get in Formula 1 because of testing restrictions and there is no other series on the planet that can prepare you for Formula 1 as much as actually driving the car and working with the team because it’s a whole different world in Formula 1. Not only the cars are different, but just the way the team works. You have so many people that you are responsible to giving feedback to and having a working relationship with.”
Having had the great pleasure of interviewing Alexander last year, we’re thrilled with this latest step in his path to Formula 1.