The dogged pursuit of Formula 1 was something that drove Alexander Rossi for years in his quest to make it as an American driver in the series, and he achieved it in five Grands Prix in 2015 with Manor.
However when the path changed and the focus shifted to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Andretti-Herta Autosport this season, Rossi has now embarked back on a career in his home country.
And today he confirmed officially that after being in a reserve role for MRT this season, although only attending a handful of Grands Prix on site, he won’t be involved in any F1 capacity in 2017.
“I won’t be continuing in F1 as any type of reserve driver in 2017,” Rossi confirmed Monday during a teleconference, following official confirmation that he’d back with Andretti-Herta Autosport for at least next season. He didn’t specify contract terms but did say that this was one-year with options.
“When Rio Haryanto lost his seat, I was offered to take his place… and I turned it down because I didn’t think it was appropriate to do for Andretti Autosport and the Verizon IndyCar Series. I made that call back then in August. I’ve come to terms with it,” he added.
Rossi learned a lot about himself and even more about the high level of competition in IndyCar. For a driver so driven by the desire to win every time out, ending with only that Indianapolis 500 triumph and a handful of other top-10 finishes made it a frustrating first campaign.
“What made me realize it the most was how competitive it was,” he explained. “I had a point to prove in the championship, and I want to stay to prove how capable I am.
“The desire for me is to win races. If I’m not, then I want to keep coming back until that’s been accomplished.
“I started out here with an unknown… the first thing that stuck out was the competitiveness, and how diverse you have to be to win this championship. You have to be good at so many different things. I’ve enjoyed being a part of it.”
This may end the F1 dream for Rossi, for now, as he will attend at least three more Grands Prix this year – Austin on Oct. 23, Mexico a week later and Abu Dhabi in late November are expected – but it also provides a firm commitment to IndyCar and a desire to be significantly better with his team in 2017.
“One of my huge things when I was growing up and wanting to race in Formula 1 was the desire I wanted to represent the U.S. and be an American driver,” he said.
“Even though the Verizon IndyCar Series is an American championship, there’s been a lot of longing for American talent. It’s really strong at the moment. There’s the names representing it in a positive way.
“The whole organization and championship welcomed me with open arms. The community of teams and drivers supports each other in a way I wasn’t used to in Europe.
“That’s definitely something when I took everything into consideration the last couple months.”