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Alexander Rossi joins Marussia as reserve driver


American F1 hopeful Alexander Rossi has joined Marussia F1 Team as its official reserve driver with immediate effect.

The 22-year-old had previously worked with Caterham, but left its development driver programme when the team came under new ownership. Having also left its GP2 team, he enjoyed a one race with Campos in Germany before making way for regular driver Kimiya Sato for the Hungarian rounds this weekend.

However, he has kept himself firmly in contention for an F1 seat in the future – potentially with Haas Formula in 2016 – by joining Marussia, and was delighted to confirm the news today.

“Today is a good day and next step in my Formula 1 career,” Rossi said. “Since my initial discussions with the Marussia F1 Team management, I’ve felt right at home. I’m looking forward to working with the team in Hungary and building for the rest of the season.

“The timing of my affiliation with the team is perfect, especially beginning in Hungary before the summer break. My goal is Formula 1, and I’m delighted to be immersed into the team as official reserve driver, where I have the opportunity to prepare for this next step, with plans to drive in Free Practice 1 this season.”

Marussia has been one of the breakthrough teams in 2014, scoring its first ever points in F1 through Jules Bianchi at Monaco earlier this year. For Rossi, it is the right move to make.

“Marussia is in an exciting place right now and the progress at the team is clear for all to see,” he said. “I’m thrilled that now I have the chance to be part of that journey, to progress and play a useful role in the development of the team. I want to thank Marussia F1 Team for the opportunity this season.”

Team principal John Booth is equally as enthusiastic about the move, believing that tying Marussia to the American market will be very beneficial.

“We are very pleased to welcome Alexander to the Marussia F1 Team in the role of Official Reserve Driver,” he said. “He is a proven talent whom we have observed in GP2 and we have also been impressed by his performances during Friday morning free practice sessions over the past two seasons.

“The US is an exciting market for the sport and Alexander has a great deal of support there, so it is nice to develop new links to that audience. Alexander will be an integral part of the Team, immersing himself in our engineering activity so that he is fully prepared should he ever be required to deputise for one of the race drivers.

After a difficult period, the next chapter in Rossi’s career looks set with Marussia. After seven years without an American driver in Formula 1, we could be a step closer to seeing the star spangled banner represented on the grid once again.

Report: No Mexico, 16 races expected on 2016 IndyCar schedule

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IndyCar chairman Mark Miles doesn’t expect the 2016 Verizon IndyCar season to begin in Mexico in February next year, according to a report by USA Today.

Though Miles said the Mexico race was “unlikely,” he believes the final schedule will 16 races at 15 venues over the course of seven months.

Miles said the series is waiting for a “highly, highly likely” event to be approved by a board around Oct. 13, going on to say it wasn’t Pocono Raceway.

“If we had to, we probably could put this out, in theory, sooner, but we want to go through the formality and respect the process of a formal approval from one of the promoters,” Miles said.

Miles said the Mexico City race has been put on hold due to concerns for proper promotion for the event, which would be the series’ first outside the United States since racing in Brazil in 2013.

“The process they needed to go through to get everything lined up has not really left a lot of time to be confident that everything can be done to properly promote the first race,” Miles told USA Today. “So I think the conversation is very much about ‘17. We just kind of ran out of time for ‘16.”

This is what is know about the 2016 IndyCar schedule so far.

Either the track, IndyCar, or an IndyCar support series (Pirelli World Challenge) have announced these dates for 2016:

March 13: St. Petersburg, Fla.
April 17: Long Beach, Calif.
April 24: Birmingham, Ala.
May 14: Indianapolis, In. (Indy GP)
May 29: Indianapolis, In. (100th Indy 500)
June 4-5: Detroit, Mich.
June 11: Fort Worth, Texas
June 26: Elkhart Lake, Wis.
July 31: Lexington, Ohio
Sept. 4: Boston, Mass.
Sept. 18: Sonoma, Calif.

These dates are not formal but are highly likely for 2016, per media reports:

April 2: Phoenix, AZ
July 17: Toronto, Ontario

These tracks have been rumored, but are yet to announce the status of IndyCar races for 2016:

Iowa Speedway
Pocono Raceway
The Milwaukee Mile
Gateway International Raceway

Williams hopes to improve on 2014 performance in Russian GP

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At this weekend’s Russian GP, Williams Martini Racing is looking for more of the same from Valtteri Bottas and a little improvement from Felipe Massa.

Last year, Bottas started and finished third while Lewis Hamilton ran away with the win, finishing 13 seconds over Nico Rosberg and 17 over Bottas in the inaugural race at the Sochi Autodrom.

Meanwhile, Massa started 18th after a fuel flow issue knocked him out of the first round of qualifying and managed an 11th-place finish.

Bottas and Massa enter the Sochi race fifth and sixth in the driver standings.

“We had a good result last year in Russia so we’re expecting another strong weekend and a good collection of points,” said Bottas in a release. “We all know the track now and it has a really good flow, with the long straights a good fit for our car.”

Bottas has finished in the top five in each of the last three races, two of which were won by Hamilton.

“Pace-wise we were close to Mercedes in Japan and I think we can be close again in Sochi, just like we were in 2014,” Bottas said, who also noted after Japan the team is set to turn its focus to its 2016 car.

Massa, who has two podium finishes this year, will try to bounce back from a DNF at Marina Bay and a 17th-place finish in Japan.

“I hope to make amends for qualifying last year and I’m confident we can have a competitive race,” Massa said in a team release.

“Russia is a very nice track with a few long straights which makes it interesting for overtaking,” Massa said of the 18-turn track. “The circuit has almost everything, starting with a straight and then moving into high-speed corners and then very slow corners in the middle sector. This makes setting up the car really important and the importance of downforce evident.”

The Russian Grand Prix can been seen on NBCSN on Sunday at 7 am ET.