Formula 1 is about to get its first American driver since Scott Speed back in 2007 driving for Toro Rosso. Alexander Rossi, currently competing in the GP2 series with Racing Engineering, will replace Roberto Merhi at Manor Marussia for the last five of the remaining seven races of the season.
The last minute deal saw Rossi fly into Singapore after discussions took place shortly after the Italian Grand Prix, coming as a surprise to many, including Rossi himself.
“I have quite a bit of history with this team and I was with them in 2014, so we’ve always had good communication at the beginning of this year, but I wasn’t expecting 2015 to be a year when I was racing an F1 team.”
Rossi came close to racing for Manor Marussia last season at the Belgian Grand Prix where he was meant to substitute for Max Chilton, however, whatever issue Chilton had with Marussia was solved at the 11th hour and he retained his seat, denying Rossi his Formula 1 debut.
The American has been in and out of the GP2 series with multiple teams for the past few years. In 2015 he joined Racing Engineering for a full campaign to target the championship. Although Rossi is aware that his reserve driver duties for Marussia last year may have impacted his racing craft.
“The big thing that I’ve been missing for the last three years in my F1 career is actually racing. We have been close a few times, but it’s very surreal now that it is about to happen. This is a major step in really firmly putting myself on the Formula One map and the radar, so I’m just focusing on doing a good job in these next five races and showing that I am capable of being in Formula One and doing a good job.”
While competing in five of the last seven races of the Formula 1 season, Rossi will spend the other two rounds in Russia and Abu Dhabi contending the end of the GP2 season where he currently sits second in the championship.
“My GP2 season is going very well and I feel very committed to Race Engineering and that programme, but I’m very pleased that they opened their doors and allowed me to do this run. At the same time, I have to say a big thank you to Manor because it’s difficult for them to have me in [the car] and then not in for a couple of races. It took work on both sides, but I’m very pleased and thankful that we were able to do it.”
Images via XPB Images and GP2 Series Media