With the beginning of the Formula 1 season less than two weeks away, teams are finalizing their line-ups by adding reserve drivers. Caterham F1 Team overjoyed American F1 fans on March 1 by announcing that US driver Alexander Rossi would fill one of their back-up spots for the 2013 season.
Rossi is currently the only American to hold an FIA Super License, and was a test driver for Caterham in 2012. He made his Formula 1 practice debut at the Spanish Grand Prix last season and is expected to make several FP1 practice appearances in the 2013 season.
“Today’s announcement brings me even closer to my goal of racing in F1. 2013 will be my third season with the Caterham family and I’ve built solid relationships within the whole team” Said the 21 year old driver.
Team principal Cyril Abiteboul described the program that they have designed for Rossi and his fellow reserve driver Ma Qing Hua as being designed to get the young drivers to the next step in the sport. “The program we have devised for Alexander and Ma will allow them to immerse themselves completely in the F1 environment throughout 2013, preparing them for the day when they take the next step up to the ultimate level.”
While it isn’t a race seat, this is one big step closer to seeing an American driver back at the wheel of a Formula 1 car. Caterham is a young team in the grand scheme of things, and is an ideal place for Rossi to begin especially since he has a long existing relationship with the company.
Both of Caterham’s race drivers, Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde, are new to Caterham. Chilton spent last year with Marussia F1 Team while van der Garde is a rookie, coming up from Caterham’s GP2 Series team.
In F1, on the teams that aren’t traditional powerhouses, there tends to be a revolving door of drivers. That isn’t saying anything negative about the team or wheel men; it is just how it is. What it means, though, is that Rossi has a great chance to hop into a race seat in 2014.
I am excited to see how much fan support Rossi gets at the 2013 United States Grand Prix. There is no guarantee that he will even hit the track, but I think Caterham would be foolish to not have the kid taking laps in his home country. It would do wonders for Caterham’s popularity as well as for the popularity of F1 in America.
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