The lack of Americans in Formula 1 over the past 20 years is quite alarming. In fact since Michael Andretti’s ill-fated attempt with McLaren in 1993, only Scott Speed has driven an F1 car in anger, between 2006 & 2007. Its a shame, especially with the United States have produced such great drivers in the past, including legendary names such as Dan Gurney & Phil Hill. In recent times, American drivers have been more interested in joining either the Nascar or Indycar scene, though even in the latter, the appeal is dwindling despite excellent racing.
Hopefully this trend is coming to an end. This year in the GP2 Series is a young American who has Formula 1 firmly in his sights – Alexander Rossi. The 21-year-old competes for the Caterham GP2 team and is a test driver for its parent team in Formula 1.
His racing career started out at the Skip Barber Racing School back in 2005, before winning the Western Regional championship in a busy 2006, whilst finishing third in the National championship at the same time. He also made his debut in the Formula TR 1600 Pro Series, back then part of the Formula Renault junior series. 2007 saw him progress into the Formula BMW Americas series with Team Apex Racing, finishing third in the final standings with three races victories to his name. 2008 saw him dominate the same series, winning ten out of fifteen races. He also won the end of season Formula BMW World Final.
2009 saw him move to the International Formula Master series, winning three races and finishing fourth in the championship. The winter of 2009/2010, as an eighteen-year-old, he made his debut in the GP2 Asia series, finishing 9th in the table with 12 points from 8 races.
2010 saw him join ART GP in the inaugeral GP3 series, winning twice and finishing fourth in the championship. He also made his debut in the Formula Renault 3.5 series that year, for the ISR Racing team. He continued in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2011, now with Fortec Motorsport, and finished third in the championship, winning twice. He switched to Arden Caterham for 2012 but endured a difficult season and dropped to 11th in the table, grabbing a solitary podium finish along the way.
2012 however also saw him promoted by Caterham to the role of Formula One test & third driver, a role that included a free-practice run at the Spanish Grand Prix. He continued his role as Caterham test driver into 2013. It looked however unlikely that a race seat in any series would materialise for the American driver for this year, but after the first GP2 race weekend of the season, Caterham Racing dropped Ma Qing Hua from its line-up and chose Rossi as his replacement. He didn’t disappoint the team, and produced an astonishing drive to the podium in his debut race in Bahrain. He has also been confirmed as a Caterham LMP2 driver for the up-coming Le Mans 24 hours event.
So what next for Alexander Rossi? He said at the recent Canadian Grand Prix (whilst having his first free practice run for Caterham of 2013) that he’d be disappointed not to be in Formula 1 in 2014 and that was his ultimate aim. I for one hope he can make it, hes certainly a very talented driver, and its about time the United States of America had a driver of his calibre back in the top level of motor sport – Formula 1.