American GP2 driver Alexander Rossi is relishing the start of the new racing season in Bahrain later this month following a strong showing during pre-season testing.
Rossi, 23, enters his third season in GP2 in 2015 after coming close to making his Formula 1 debut in 2014 as the reserve driver at both Caterham and Marussia.
Following Marussia’s collapse at the end of last season, Rossi opted to move back into GP2 for 2015, securing a front-running seat with Spanish team Racing Engineering.
During the final pre-season test in Bahrain, Rossi displayed a competitive pace, finishing within one-tenth of a second of pace-setter Pierre Gasly in the final standings.
“It has been a very positive test with different variables, including the weather,” Rossi said. “By the morning of the third day we were able to be in the top five consistently and at the sharp end of the grid, which is a great result and shows the development and progress we have made.
“The team did a great job with the qualifying set up and race simulation, and we were able to complete our run programmes successfully throughout the sessions, putting us in good shape for the first race back here in Bahrain.
“All in all, it has been a very positive and successful three days and I’m really looking forward to the first race weekend, starting on the 17th April.”
Rossi has been the leading American F1 hopeful in recent years, and was due to race at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix when Marussia benched Max Chilton due to a contractual dispute.
However, it was soon resolved, preventing Rossi from ending the seven-year period without an American driver racing in F1.
He had been due to deputize for Jules Bianchi later in the year following the Frenchman’s tragic injury at the Japanese Grand Prix, but the team folded after fielding just one car in Russia in October.
With the new FIA super licence rules coming into force for 2016, Rossi knows that a strong season in GP2 is required if he is to secure a seat with Haas F1 Team, which will become the 11th F1 team next year.