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Full focus on IndyCar for Rossi he confirms no F1 for 2017

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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.”

F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images
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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.