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GP Week : Issue 180
It’s been a while, but there’s an American on the verge of F1. Alexander Rossi spoke to GPWEEK’s Kate Walker THE AMERICAN (F1) DREAM Thanks in part to Formula One’s on-again, off-again relationship with the country, the grid lacks a driver from one of the sport’s biggest untapped markets – the United States of America. Caterham test driver Alexander Rossi hopes to change that, and soon. If one was called upon to list the ideal attributes of a modern F1 driver, the result would look not dissimilar to Rossi. Representing a currently untapped market? Check. Media friendly? Check. Affable persona to draw in fans and sponsors alike? Check. Good looking and well-presented? Check. All that remains is to discover whether or not he’s fast. But while Rossi will not be racing this season, choosing instead to concentrate on his duties as test driver for Caterham, he will have a few chances to demonstrate his prowess behind the wheel of a Formula One car – his first of the year will be on Friday morning in Bahrain. GPWEEK got to know the great American hope in Sepang. First item on the agenda? Why would an American racer choose to pursue an F1 career when far easier paths beckoned in the worlds of IndyCar and NASCAR? “I was brought up watching Formula One,” Rossi explained. “My father and I would get up in the early hours of the morning to watch the races, and we shared a passion for the sport. I was really young then, and when I started to realise what F1 was – how it’s the best of the best, with the best teams, the best manufacturers, the best drivers, the best circuits – as any competitive sports person will tell you, we all want to see how we compare to the best in the world. “For me, pursuing a career in Formula One was always an easy decision. My goal was always F1 because I wanted to be a part of this global sport. IndyCar and NASCAR have their own challenges, but at the end of the day it’s just in the United States, and that didn’t appeal to me – I wanted to be part of something that was worldwide.” But despite F1’s history and global appeal, the cars themselves – and the technology they represent – proved to be the biggest lure for the Californian with his eyes on the single-seater prize. “When I made the decision to head for F1 I didn’t understand the magnitude of the tracks and what they meant. Monaco’s a cool place, but when I was younger I didn’t understand what it 26 GPWEEK.com // 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> FEATURE