Alexander Rossi is hoping to take part in a practice session for most of the remaining grands prix on the 2014 Formula 1 calendar following his move to Marussia.
The American F1 hopeful parted company with Caterham earlier this month, appearing to dent his hopes of moving up to a full-time seat in the sport in the future. However, he is delighted to have swiftly jumped ship to Marussia, with whom he hopes to enjoy more running.
“This past week has been very difficult for a lot of reasons, a lot of changes have gone down,” he explained to NBCSN. “I left Caterham about ten days ago, did a GP2 race with a different team in Germany, and now here we are in Budapest back in the Formula 1 paddock with Marussia. I’m really thrilled to be here, so thankful for the opportunity, and I can’t wait to be in the car.
“It came about quite quickly if I’m honest. When I announced my departure from Caterham, we got a phone call from Marussia kind of within 48 hours, and they expressed an interest in having me as part of the team, and it became about making it work and trying to make it happen.
“It was something quite good for me, and there’s a possibility I might be back in that car. however, the focus is now to be back in the F1 car as soon as possible.”
Rossi said that he is hoping to run in most of the free practice one sessions until the end of the season for Marussia, replacing either Max Chilton or Jules Bianchi each time.
“The plan is to do the majority of them from here on out,” he explained. “I’ll be missing this one unfortunately due to just the timing of everything. Obviously the announcement just came out about ten minutes ago so to get a seat made and to get into the car for tomorrow is impossible, but definitely I’ll be in the car for Spa.”
Rossi also confirmed that he will be definitely taking part in practice for the United States Grand Prix, meaning that there will be an American running in an F1 car at the Circuit of the Americas later this year.
“That was kind of my biggest fear more than anything, was the fact that when we left Caterham, if there wasn’t another F1 team on the table that I wouldn’t be able to drive in Austin and I wouldn’t be able to be an American on the grid,” Rossi revealed. “That weighed heavily on me, but now that this deal is done, that’s definitely going to be my highlight again and I can’t wait to go back.”
Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.
If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.
“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”
The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.
Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.
But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.
“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.
“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”
Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.
If #F1 wants to start looking around for an American driver, Colton Herta has a suggestion for where that search should start. https://t.co/71PVeu6aBj
Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.
A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.
“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.
“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”
During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:
–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;
–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;
–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”
–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.
“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”