American Alexander Rossi put in an excellent effort in this morning’s truncated first practice session for the United States Grand Prix. Rossi had prior track experience at Circuit of the Americas in an old Jim Clark Lotus 49 in the winter, but FP1 marked an opportunity to take over Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham chassis for his second FP1 appearance of the 2013 Formula One season.
Rossi ended the session 19th, seven tenths clear of teammate Charles Pic while running the same program. The Marussias of Max Chilton (20th) and Rodolfo Gonzalez (22nd) sandwiched the second Caterham.
Rossi was one of only five drivers to get laps in before the first red flag. With time and proper laps run, Rossi got down to a 1:41.399 around the 3.4-mile circuit, two tenths up on Chilton ahead of him.
“It wasn’t too bad to be honest,” Rossi explained. “By the third or fourth lap I was very comfortable with where the track went. There’s a ton of information and prep work that goes into it from an engineering side of things. I knew going out what to expect, and because it wasn’t the first year here I had got a lot of input from the team.”
Understandably, there was “no comparison” in trying to drive an iconic, historic chassis versus a modern day car, but Rossi said the overall grip level was fine for FP1.
Having a chance to reflect on his season as a whole, with his first win in GP2 achieved two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, Rossi said it was important to end on a high note.
“Every year you progress in motorsports, you learn things you didn’t know before,” he said. “To be honest 2013 wasn’t my best year in a junior formula, but the win is the best thing going into the offseason. It was great timing with that and today’s run.”
Asked about next year, Rossi said he has “absolutely no idea” what he’ll be doing.
“All I know is I got to drive an F1 car today. Anytime you get an opportunity to drive an F1 car is special,” he said.
Of the other FP1-only drivers, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat (driving Jean-Eric Vergne’s chassis) was 17th with Gonzalez, in for Jules Bianchi, 22nd and last and 2.1 seconds off Chilton for Marussia. Gonzalez’s car was smoking toward the end of the session.