Alexander Rossi, Caterham part ways

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American Formula One hopeful Alexander Rossi has confirmed a departure from Caterham, where he won’t be testing for the Caterham F1 Team nor racing with the Caterham Racing GP2 outfit for the remainder of the 2014 season.

Rossi, beyond his GP2 commitments, was also due to participate in FP1 at Austin this year after doing so last year, and also at Canada in both 2013 and 2014. He had just scored his first points of the GP2 season at the Red Bull Ring in Austria last month.

In a statement posted to his official Facebook page, Rossi said the timing was right to move given the ownership change at Caterham, and that other options will work better for his European feature.

“I will no longer be racing for Caterham as of today. It’s been an emotional couple of years with the team, the highlight being driving with them in Austin last year. Now it’s time to move on,” he said in the statement.

He added, “My goal is to be in F1 and add value to the sport and I’m very optimistic about my next steps; we have a great opportunity to grow the sport in the States and I believe the timing is perfect.”

My MotorSportsTalk colleague Luke Smith caught up with Rossi at Canada earlier this year; I last spoke to him at Daytona, when he was part of the lineup in the DeltaWing coupe for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Things have of course changed for the 22-year-old American since.

Rossi’s next move will be an intriguing one to watch. The prospect of an American driving for the new American F1 team, Gene Haas’ Haas Formula, is tantalizing.

But still, Rossi remains the closest American driver on the doorstep of F1, and the hope is that this news keeps him well-positioned rather than removes his best opportunity.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.