The 24-year-old Californian has been confirmed Tuesday as driver of the No. 98 Honda for Andretti Autosport, formerly the Bryan Herta Autosport entry before Andretti Autosport and BHA announced a partnership last week.
“I’m very much looking forward to making my IndyCar Series debut this season and am proud to be racing with a team of such high caliber and pedigree as that of Andretti Autosport,” said Rossi. “As a racer through and through, I cannot wait to get started; our goal is to be competitive immediately at the first race in St. Petersburg.”
His first test will be March 1 at Sebring along with fellow rookie Spencer Pigot of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. So he won’t test this week in Phoenix.
“We’re really excited to have Alexander join the team,” said Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti. “His credentials speak for his ability and we’re confident he’ll transition seamlessly into IndyCar racing. It’s neat to have the last three American F1 drivers in 25 years to be under one roof, I think it speaks to the level of talent we have.”
“Personally, I’m really pleased at how well all these pieces have come into place for this group,” Herta added. “Adding Alexander as a driver is going from strength to strength for us. We can’t wait to get on track together and start our preparation for the 2016 season.”
The move provides Rossi a landing place after being passed over for the final spot on the Formula 1 grid with the Manor Racing MRT squad, and a driver for the Herta-led IndyCar as part of the expected 21-car full-season grid Stateside.
He’ll also be the third Sunoco rookie-of-the-year contender, alongside fellow American who’d had both an international and U.S. focus in Conor Daly and ex-Marussia F1 driver Max Chilton, who raced in the U.S. most of the season last year with Carlin in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series.
Rossi has U.S. race experience – he’s a past Formula BMW Americas champion – but has opted to focus primarily on Europe for the past several years.
The buildup led Rossi into Formula 1 last season in a five-race cameo with Manor, where he generally outperformed Englishman Will Stevens. Rossi and Stevens were known to be in contention for the second seat that eventually went to Indonesian Rio Haryanto.
With Rossi’s confirmation Tuesday, it leaves just the second Dale Coyne Racing Honda, the No. 19 car, as the lone full-season entry yet to have its driver revealed.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Chevrolet, which Carpenter will drive in oval races, does not yet have a driver for the road and street course races. If one is named, it would bring the field up from 21 expected full-season cars to 22 cars.