Rossi: Surreal to be on brink of F1 debut


Alexander Rossi finds it “surreal” that he will be making his full Formula 1 debut in this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Rossi will become the first American driver to race in F1 since Scott Speed back in 2007 after signing a five-race deal with Manor, replacing Roberto Merhi.

After a number of near-misses in 2014 with Marussia, Rossi explained to NBCSN how he finds it hard to believe that he is just three days away from starting a grand prix for the first time.

“Surreal – I haven’t quite gotten there yet,” Rossi said when asked if his step up had sunk in yet. “I think come Sunday morning it’s gonna be a better day than Christmas.

“Now I’m just trying to absorb everything and take on board everything that I need to do for tomorrow. At this point in time, I just can’t wait to get in a race car.”

Rossi had been due to make his grand prix debut in Belgium last year when Max Chilton was poised to be dropped by Marussia for the weekend, only for the Briton to strike a new deal with the team to keep his seat. Further opportunities nearly came about in Russia and Abu Dhabi, but Rossi never lined up on the grid.

Now though, Rossi is delighted to have everything in place to make his race debut on Sunday.

“[I’ve] kind of been down this road a couple of times before, and we haven’t quite done the full thing,” Rossi said.

“Now I know it’s going to happen, so I’m just really making sure I’m as ready as a possibly can be to make the most of the opportunity. It’s not an opportunity that comes along very often. I’m here and I’m ready to maximize it.

Rossi revealed that the deal with Manor came about very late, having only found out on Monday that he would be racing in Singapore this weekend.

“There were some discussions going back and forth towards the end of the week, but nothing was really looking like it was going to happen because it was so last minute,” he explained.

“And then I found out middle of Monday night that it was going to happen, so I then woke up, got out of bed and booked some flights Tuesday morning to fly here and arrive Tuesday night. I was in Spain with my GP2 team debriefing Monza, and was planning to just go down there and do what I need to do. And now here I am in Singapore.”

Rossi will race in front of his home fans at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas in October, and the Californian is relishing the opportunity to delight the crowds at the Circuit of The Americas.

“I don’t even want to think about that right now because I’ve got Singapore and Japan to do first,” Rossi said. “But every athlete’s dream is to compete at home.

“Looking back on when I just did free practice in 2013, it was an unbelievable experience. Now to go there and to be a full-time race driver and race in front of what have been truly amazing American fans and have been so supportive and so interested in F1, I think it will be a massive thing and hopefully just the start of something great.”

Kyle Larson wins High Limit Sprint race at Tri-City Speedway ahead of Rico Abreu

Larson High Limit Tri-City
High Limit Sprint Car Series

A late race caution set up a 14-lap shootout at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois with Kyle Larson winning his second consecutive High Limit Sprint Car Series race over Rico Abreu.

Starting eight on the grid after a disappointing pole dash, Larson missed several major incidents as he worked his way to the front. On Lap 1 of 35, a five-car accident claimed Tyler Courtney and Michael “Buddy” Kofoid, who both took a tumble and before collecting three other cars. Once that red flag was lifted, it didn’t take long for drivers to get tangled again as the leader Danny Dietrich experienced engine trouble on Lap 8. When he slowed rapidly, second-place Brent Marks collided with his back tire, ending the day for both.

Larson moved up to fourth with this incident.

Another red flag on Lap 21 for a flip involving Parker Price-Miller set up the dash for the win.

“My car felt really good and then we got that red,” Larson said from victory lane. “I was kind of running through the crumbs before that in 3 and 4; I could tell the top was getting really sketchy. Parker was making mistakes up there.

“When the red came out, I could see there was a clean lane of grip – not just marbles. It’s hard to see when you’re at speed. I figured Rico was going to run the top and he did. I got to his inside a couple of times and I was like ‘please don’t go to the bottom,’ and I threw a slider on him. Then he went to the bottom and I thought I was screwed until he spun his tires really bad off the corner and I was able to hit the top okay and get another run and slide him. I got good grip off the cushion.”

The victory makes Larson the first repeat winner in the series’ five-race history. He beat Justin Sanders earlier this month at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio.

With 10 laps remaining, Larson caught and pressured Abreu. The two threw a series of sliders at one another until Abreu bobbled on the cushion and lost momentum.

“Anytime you race Rico and he’s on the wall like that, you have to get aggressive,” Larson said. “He’s pushing so hard that just to stay in the striking zone if he makes a mistake, you have to push hard too.”

For Abreu, it was his second near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps.

“I felt like I made a lot of mistakes at the end,” Abreu said. “It’s just hard to judge race pace. You’ve got Kyle behind you and [Anthony] Macri and these guys that have had speed all year long. I was racing as hard as I could and the mistake factor is more and more critical.”

Cory Eliason earned his career-best High Limit finish of third after starting deep in the field in 13th.

Macri lost one position during the race to finish fourth with Sam Hafertepe, Jr. rounding out the top five.

Visiting from the NASCAR Cup series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 19th in the 25-car field after advancing from the B-Main.

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway