American Rossi named one of Caterham F1 reserves

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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.

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”