Alexander Rossi will occupy the cockpit of a Caterham F1 Team CT03 for FP1 of the Canadian Grand Prix.
Rossi was originally slated to get and FP1 drive in Bahrain, but prior to that happening the team brought in former race driver Heikki Kovalainen as a reserve driver and Rossi’s ride was postponed. Now he will get his first chance to take a Formula 1 car out since he drove Caterham’s 2012 car, the CT02, at the young driver test in Abu Dhabi this past November.
It is good to see such a promising young driver get a chance to hit the track in an F1 machine and show off some of his skills, and even better for Rossi is the fact that he will get to do it in North America. Rossi is currently the only American to hold an FIA Super License and as such is widely considered to be the best hope of seeing an American in a Formula One race seat in the near future.
Caterham’s third reserve driver Qing Hua Ma drove during FP1 of the Chinese Grand Prix, giving him the opportunity to take a turn in front of his home crowd. With any luck Rossi will get the same chance in November at the United State Grand Prix.
Caterham’s willingness to get their young reserve drivers on the track seems to indicate that their current race drivers don’t exactly have job security. Given that Caterham is a young team, having only entered the sport in 2010 under the name Lotus Racing, it isn’t overly surprising that they are willing to take a look at their reserve drivers.
With the switch to 1.6-liter turbo-charged V6s for the 2014 season there is a chance for a shake-up in the F1 pecking order. If Caterham can get the right engine package and pair it with a talented young driver they could climb out of the constructor’s points basement. They could also propel their popularity, and the popularity of F1 in the United States, by giving a race seat to an American.
Obviously there is no guarantee that Rossi will get a 2014 race seat with Caterham or any team, but the fact that he has an opportunity to show off his skills some during an FP1 drive is a good step towards putting an American back into an F1 race seat.
Rossi will fly to Europe following the end of FP2 in Canada in order to join up with Caterham’s Le Mans team.
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