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.

F1 Preview: 2018 Australian Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

Save for two occasions, in 2006, and 2010, the Australian Grand Prix has served as the season-opening event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 1996, and this weekend’s event will be the 21st time that the city of Melbourne has kicked off the Formula 1 campaign.

The 2018 season is the fifth one of the current hybrid power unit era, the second season of the current aero regulations, and the second under Liberty Media’s guidance.

Last year saw titans Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari duel for supremacy for most of the season before Mercedes distanced Ferrari late in the season to take the constructor’s title and the driver’s title, with Lewis Hamilton, who is now tied with Sebastian Vettel on four world championships apiece.

Four drivers on the grid have Formula 1 world championships to their name: Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also has a world championship to his name as a two-time titlist in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

So, what can viewers expect from the 2018 curtain-raiser in Australia? A handful of things to watch are below?

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Does Anyone Have Anything for Mercedes?

Only on one day during pre-season testing did a Mercedes driver lead the way – Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the final day of Week 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all indications were that was by design, with the team focusing the majority of the second week, if not the entire second week, on long runs with their W09 EQ Power+ chassis.

Such a decision is an ominous one, in that it indicates the team is very comfortable with the amount of speed in the car and did not see a need, or desire, to show their hand during testing.

With that in mind, the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may yet again have the best and fastest cars, and the team looks poised to potentially make it five constructor’s and driver’s championships in a row.

Ferrari and Red Bull Look to End Mercedes Reign

The biggest threats to Mercedes are undoubtedly Ferrari and Red Bull, the only other teams to win in 2017.

And both teams displayed a lot of pace during testing, particularly in the “one-lap speed” category. Ricciardo set a lap record around the Catalunya circuit during the second week, only for Vettel to supplant that mark later in the week. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen led the way during the final day of testing.

It is unknown how that pace will translate over the course of a race distance. Mercedes appeared to have an edge on both Ferrari and Red Bull over long runs and race simulations, but there is also a theory that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull had their true long-run form on display.

Still, if a team is going to knock off Mercedes, it will likely be either Ferrari or Red Bull.

McLaren on the Rebound?

Put simply, the previous three seasons for McLaren F1 Team were a bit of a disaster. Their partnership with Honda yielded point totals of 27 (2015), 76 (2016), and 30 (2017) in a three-year venture that was defined by poor reliability and underwhelming power.

The relationship hit a boiling point last year and both entities parted ways ahead of the 2018 season, with McLaren signing a new power unit deal with Renault.

Testing went better than in previous years, though the team continued to battle reliability problems. However, all issues appeared to be minor, needling issues rather than more significant, foundational problems, as the other Renault teams (Red Bull and Renault Sport F1 Team) had solid runs with few reliability issues.

The car does appear to have speed in it, so if the reliability problems are behind them, McLaren could be in for a rebound season.

Stuck in the Midfield Again

Formula 1’s battle amongst the midfield is set to be as fierce as ever as a host of a several teams have a chance at being “best of the rest.”

Sahara Force India has been the frontrunner from the the midfield teams each of the last two years, finishing fourth in the constructor’s title in both 2016 and 2017, though if the steady conflict between drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez continues through 2018, it could hamper their efforts significantly.

Renault Sport F1 Team and Haas F1 Team look to improve on their 2017 form, while Toro Rosso is in a new partnership with Honda power units…and has experienced a surprisingly smooth pre-season as Honda’s 2018 platform looks significantly better, with the team enjoying a solid run of testing with few, if any, reliability problems.

Williams Martini Racing and Alfa Romeo Sauber appear to be at the back of the pack entering the season, but both could battle for points finishes if those ahead of them falter.