Alexander Rossi will become the first driver to combine roles in Formula 1 and IndyCar after being named as Manor Racing’s reserve for the 2016 season.
Rossi became the first American in eight years to race in F1 when he made his debut with Manor in Singapore last year, taking part in five of the last seven grands prix of the season.
Rossi had hoped to continue in F1 with Manor this year, only for Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein and GP2 driver Rio Haryanto to take the seats with the team.
The American moved quickly to snap up a seat in IndyCar, taking the no. 98 Andretti Autosport/Bryan Herta car following their decision to merge for a fourth full-season entry.
However, Rossi will remain part of the F1 paddock in 2016 after being announced as Manor’s reserve driver for the season on Wednesday.
“I’ve invested most of my career in F1 and I’m not one to kick my heels and wait for things to happen, so this is my way of staying sharp and prepared,” Rossi said.
“It was disappointing to miss out on a race seat with Manor Racing this year; everyone knows I pushed and worked hard for it. As official reserve driver though, I have a very complimentary dual program at the highest level of motorsport.
“IndyCar Series is the premier category of open wheel racing in North America and extremely competitive. I also have the privilege of racing with a championship winning team, Andretti Autosport. I’m confident this experience will add to my role as a very important cog in an F1 team’s wheel.
“My schedule this year is demanding, but no more than a full-time F1 schedule. I will attend 11 grands prix, only five of which take place during the IndyCar season, and I am certainly used to the travel demands of the F1 calendar.
“It’s great to be back with a team I know and with whom I share a mutual respect and passion for the sport we love.”
Manor racing director Dave Ryan was pleased to welcome Rossi back to the team, saying that the door to F1 is very much open to the American still.
“We’re very fortunate to have someone of Alex’s calibre in the role of official reserve driver,” Ryan said.
“The fact that he’s racing full time in the IndyCar Series this year was simply a challenge to be overcome; something we’re pretty good at.
“We need a safe pair of hands for the role, which always carries the potential to have to step up to race, but also someone who can really contribute to the development of the car.
“For Alex, F1 is still unfinished business. He did a great job when he drove for us in five of last season’s races and he’s a highly rated and valuable part of our line-up.
“He does have one heck of a schedule ahead of him and it’s a commitment that only the most disciplined of drivers would be able to manage. We’re confident he’s the man for the job.”
Rossi will attend 11 grands prix with Manor in 2016, the first being the Russian Grand Prix on May 1 ahead of a busy month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.