Alexander Rossi moves closer to becoming the next American driver to race in Formula 1, as on Friday he was confirmed as one of two reserve drivers for the fledgling Caterham squad.
Rossi and Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua join the team in the role, behind race drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. Pic’s rookie season last year with fellow new-in-2010 team Marussia is the only year of Formula 1 racing experience between the four of them.
Still, Rossi, who’s progressed in his career after winning a Formula BMW championship in the U.S. before moving to Europe, now stands at the doorstep of his grand prix debut. He raced in the World Series by Renault a year ago.
“After many discussions this winter with Caterham F1 Team regarding my 2013 program, today’s announcement brings me even closer to my goal of racing in F1,” said Rossi, 21. “2013 will be my third season with the Caterham family and I’ve built solid relationships within the whole team.”
He’s expected to drive in multiple Friday first practice sessions this year. He made his first weekend free practice appearance in last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Hua drove four Friday sessions for HRT last year. The Spanish team was unable to find a buyer to keep it afloat into 2013.
MRTI: Saturday Barber Notebook
Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires completed their first races of the weekend on Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park.
Indy Lights saw a pair of teammates battle for the win, while a series veteran suffered first lap trouble for the second race in a row.
In Pro Mazda, things were much more straightforward, as a title contender ran away to a dominant win from the pole.
Reports on both series are below.
Indy Lights: O’Ward Withstands Herta Challenge for Race 1 Victory
Lap 1 told the tale for Indy Lights Race 1, as Colton Herta led from the pole, but Pato O’Ward was able to sneak by on the inside entering Turn 5.
O’Ward subsequently had to withstand a race-long challenge from Herta, who kept the gap at less than one second between the two Andretti Autosport affiliated drivers – Herta races under the Andretti Steinbrenner Racing banner – for most of the 30-lap race. But, O’Ward kept Herta at bay to take the win by one-and-a-half seconds at the checkered flag.
This is also O’Ward’s second win in three races in the 2018 season.
Belardi Auto Racing’s Santi Urrutia finished third, followed by Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni, and Ryan Norman finished fifth to put three Andretti Autosport affiliated drivers in the Top 5.
Meanwhile, Belardi’s Aaron Telitz endured a second consecutive race in which he failed to complete a lap, after he was collected in a Lap 1, Turn 2 spin with Dalton Kellett. Kellett, who spun on his own, was able to continue despite the contact, but Telitz suffered damage to the right-front suspension, forcing him to retire without completing a lap for the second race in a row.
Results are below. Race 2 rolls off at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Pro Mazda: Thompson Roles to Dominant Race 1 Victory
Race 1 for Pro Mazda was hardly ever in doubt. Polesitter Parker Thompson, who soared to pole with a track record in qualifying, led right from the drop of the green flag to lead all 25 laps on his way to winning Race 1.
Thompson had to withstand a brief challenge from RP Motorsport’s Harrison Scott on a Lap 4 restart – a caution was flown for debris on the front straightaway on Lap 2 – but Thompson immediately began gapping the field again, and the Exclusive Autosport driver won by over five seconds.
Scott came home in second, while BN Racing’s David Malukas, Team Pelfrey’s Andres Gutierrez, and Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay battled for third, with Malukas holding off Gutierrez and VeeKay to take the final spot on the podium.
Results are below. Pro Mazda Race 2 rolls off at 10:50 a.m. ET on Sunday.