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Alexander Rossi to test for Team Lotus in Abu Dhabi
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Team Lotus
Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  04 Nov 2011   |  1:07 pm GMT  |  29 comments

Team Lotus has announced that American, Alexander Rossi, will join the team for the Young Driver tests at Abu Dhabi, taking place in the week following the Grand Prix.

The former World Series by Renault race winner has shown a lot of promise in the recent GP2 winter test sessions and will step into the seat of a Formula One car for the second time, his first having taken place with the BMW Sauber team in 2009. Rossi will also be competing in the GP2 season finale at Abu Dhabi for Caterham Team AirAsia and will be looking to improve on his testing pace. “After the positive GP2 tests in Jerez and Barcelona I feel we have a good chance of a strong result in the GP2 races.” Said Rossi.

Team Lotus, which will be rebranded Caterham F1 added Rossi to their AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program in April this year. The program, formed in 2010, aims to use Team Lotus expertise to help grow young talent from around the world. The Young Driver test will prove Team Lotus’ confidence in Rossi as the outfit looks towards the future and a potential career at the highest level. The tests have previously seen current F1 drivers Paul Di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo establish themselves as well as J R Hildebrand (2011 Indy 500 runner-up).

Having already signed with Caterham Team AirAsia for the 2012 GP2 Series, both the GP2 Finale and the Young Driver test will prove crucial for all involved heading into next season. With the GP2 Asia Series becoming part of the main championship from next year any extra mileage gained by Rossi, albeit not in a GP2 car, can only be positive.

Rossi will be keen to impress during his time in Abu Dhabi and may become a familiar name around Formula One in the very near future. American conglomerate GE is an important sponsor and with two US Grands Prix on the horizon, Rossi is central to the team’s plans.

Brazilian Luis Razia will also get a run in the Lotus during the three day test.

Also lined up to test for other teams in Abu Dhabi are Stefano Coletti and Kevin Ceccon at Toro Rosso, Jean Eric Vergne at Red Bull.

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29 Comments
  1. Paul says:

    Not a huge surprise. It’s plain to see that Rossi is a super talent, and I would be hopeful he could be in F1 with Caterham before long.

    James, do you know why STR have plumped for two drivers that aren’t part of the Red Bull Junior programme? Sainz Jnr is probably as experienced as Ceccon

    1. Dan G says:

      I would also like to know this ? Though Coletti was backed by RBR in the past right ?

  2. goferet says:

    Uh so Alexander Rossi must be an Italian-American, this is good news for the future of both US Grand Prix for with a name like that, he’s bound to succeed.

    One Alexander I know in F1 is already world champ whereas his other namesake, in motogp is a multiple champ. This is definitely someone to keep an eye out for & thankfully he will show the power-steering-fanatic the door out the sport for good.

    We need new blood up in F1, so out with the old & in with the new!

  3. jmv says:

    wow! that you single this guy out and write a story about him.. is a big media and expert endorsement from you James.

    he seems promising. i hope he makes it into F1. we need an american f1 driver. not just a driver but a solid driver. and that is what he looks to be.

  4. jmv says:

    ps. james: are you researching kimi’s comeback to write a feature on him soon? after his announcement?

    what truth is there that he was paid a total to 45 million not to race for 18 months after his ferrari contract?

    hope you can reveal this big secret.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it was €19 million not to race in 2010. It’s heating up, that’s for sure

  5. RCOne says:

    Great that he is getting a chance in the F1 test and in the GP2 finale.

    Rossi is definitely one to watch.

  6. tri says:

    Can James or anyone else confirm the intense speculation that Kimi’s deal with Williams will be announced in Abu Dhabi?

    1. James Allen says:

      There is movement, that’s for sure. Frank Williams has been working out in Qatar for a month now and counting..

      1. C Lin says:

        So James, its not a done deal then.
        Ha, all the rumours keep recycling!

  7. Chad85 says:

    As an american f1 fan this is incredibly encouragng and exciting to see…I have followed Rossi for the last two years, last year in GP3 and this year in WSR and he is a serious, serious talent…this year was perhaps the deepest, most talented field in WSR history and Rossi was almost always among the fastest two or three drivers in any given session…he was often faster than Vergne,Ricciardo and Wickens and all three are serious talents…Rossi also DESTROYED Costa his teammate this year at Fortec.

    James…any word on if Rossi is being considered for a Canterham drive in 2013 or perhaps a one-off at next years USGP in Austin? I think the F1 community seriously understates the importance of a American on the grid…a fast, young, successful American like Rossi on the grid would seriously increase interest here in the states. I know most lower level teams need pay-drivers but Rossi would be worth his weight in gold here in the states for sponsor and team exposure. Until American’s have an American to get behind Im afraid it will next to impossible to sustain interest here in the US.

    1. Chad85 says:

      Sorry I meant Ramos not Costa

      1. coefficient says:

        Well its all well and good demanding American drivers in order to garner support from US audiences but unless America produces an F1 standard driver or gets some backing ($$) for a young hotshoe it will be difficult to envisage this happening given the recent trend for pay drivers.

        Also, if American audiences only have a fairweather friend attitude towards F1, i.e. they’ll only watch if there is a quick, successful American in the sport then I fear for the future of the 2 American events before they’ve even started because we won’t get an American Vettel/Hamilton overnight.

        Hopefully, F1 roadshows will become more common in America and will be enough to spark some genuine interest in the sport rather than some partisan interest in seeing an American win everything just because of his/her nationality.

        Its a real shame that IRL stars show no interest in F1, and F1 likewise is uncertain about them. There must be someone in there good enough surely!

        It would be a real shame if the Americans invested all that money in welcoming F1 only to see it fall flat on its face due to lack of interest. After all, if the calendar took in the USA it would really be a World Championship to be proud of.

  8. moo says:

    If I was a racing driver with a shot at F1 (yeah right, dream on, hehe), I would not want to having anything to do with the 5 teams in the back.

    Yes, there are chances there like Alonso and Webber proved, but still, better to wait for an invitation from the better teams then to beg at the door of the slower ones.

    1. As a driver you cannot refuse an invitation to test in F1. The word goes out and this driver’s career is spent before it even started.

    2. Robin Trance says:

      That’s nice in theory, but does not happen these days. None of the top teams in F1 take rookies, in part due to the premium placed on experience, which in turn is a product of the lack of in season testing.

  9. Rudy Pyatt says:

    Very interesting development, this is. Rossi’s talent aside (and he’s been buzzed over for a couple of seasons now, so I take it as read that he’s legit), I wonder if this move shows that TF is looking to expand Caterham’s presence in North America. That’s not to say we’ll see Sevens running around everywhere, but I’ve seen only one on the road, ever.

  10. Schumi Iceman says:

    Kimster is back woohoo. I always regard him as one of the best, on the same level as Alonso but more ‘real’. He needs to get used to mid leagues for a season or two, it will be good to see him replacing Schumi in 2014 and knock Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton off…

  11. Lockster says:

    So what is the exact criteria for being eligible for the young driver test, for example, could Kimi do the testing for Williams due to him being out for several years?

  12. MehluliNdebele says:

    i like it when new talent is on the horizon of enterin the big f1 stage. its too bad they is a bit of a bottleneck when it gets to the top and not all deserving drivers get an opportunity, i guess it is just the nature of the beast

  13. William says:

    I generally disagree with having an Indian for the sake of it at the Indian gp, the same will go for having an American for the USA gp’s. I understand the commercial reasons why it’s done, but there shouldn’t be a push for it. I would support F1 with no British drivers. It’s the sport that interests me, not the flag waving. Maybe India was unique as they don’t follow motorsport so pushing for an Indian driver would help acquire interest. The USA is a big flag waving nation but they have motorsport knowledge and I live in the USA now and the F1 fans I know here couldn’t give a toss about whether there is an American driver or not. The potential new American F1 fans are likely going to already be motorsport enthusiasts and they will appreciate quality regardless of the nationality. So I disagree with the need for having drivers to match gp from a fan point of view. Totally understand from a commercial standpoint though.

    1. Pyaare says:

      Maybe India was unique as they don’t follow motorsport so pushing for an Indian driver would help acquire interest.

      >> That’s a big statement, to size up a country in one statement. I assume you must have spent lots of time in India, to make that authoritative statement. So tell me more about motorsports in India? Did Narain, Karun and Armaan Ebrahim start training in bullock cart races???

  14. William says:

    Might I add, Lotus kind of gave Chandok the short end of the stick at the Indian GP. But the pressure was off Lotus because of Karthikeyan’s presence on the grid. You can bet your bottom dollar that if he wasn’t, Karun would have gotten to race because the pressure would have been too great. I think this kind of approach is sad. If it so happens that the best drivers in the world are all Swedish for example, that’s who I want to see racing.

    Petrov was brought in to Renault because of the upcoming Russian GP no doubt. In fairness, he has had time to adjust and prove himself (as a Schumagnet ;-)). Chandok and Karthikeyan were both probably brought in because India was going to be on the calendar. And no doubt before the Austin or at most the New Jersey GP, there will be an American on the grid. Sad really.

    Also, the whole pay driver thing doesn’t sit well with me either. I get it, but don’t like it.

    On a slighty different note, on BBC 5Live during the Indian practice sessions, don’t recall which, Crofty was saying to Davidson about female drivers making it into F1 saying surely there’s a woman they can stick into one of the cockpits. Davidson rightly pointed out that they have to get there on merit, not just for the sake of it and not just for the sake of gender equality. He said because there are far less females in the junior categories it’s more difficult because less numbers mean less chances of one being top drawer so it will take a long time but has to be done the correct way. The same can be said about aiming for drivers of certain nationalities.

    But alas, F1 is all about the money and the image.

  15. Simon Donald says:

    As a Pom living in Australia, I’ve recently watched the Gold Coast V8 supercars weekend. I was especially interested in that the regular season drivers were partnered up with international drivers for the race. Seeing as Ferrari were so keen to have third cars rather than let in the 3 new teams in 2009 why not have the 4 top teams in the previous year’s constructors championship run a third non-championship car in 4 races of their choice in season. Have it so the drivers of the third car have to have a regular season drive in one of IndyCar, V8 Supercars, NASCAR, WRC, ALMS or WTCC. It would be great chance to promote F1 in new countries or even in the existing nations by having drivers famous in those countries compete I think it would be fantastic to see Craig Lowndes and Will Power at Albert Park, Tony Stewart, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal and Danica Patrick at Austin and New Jersey, Dario Franchitti and Andy Priaulx at Silverstone or Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves at Interlagos.

    1. coefficient says:

      That sounds like a really exciting idea. I think there is a restriction on the number of cars allowed in an F1 race though.

      Also, no matter what discipline a driver came from for this one off race they would likely make a hash of it and the potential embarrassment for all concerned would be enough to put paid to the idea.

      You can’t just get in an F1 car and make it go without any testing these days, they’re too idiosyncratic. You’ve got to learn the way the grip comes in as the downforce builds etc. It would be a huge ask in a single race weekend and I suspect most drivers would think long and hard about accepting such an opportunity.

      The teams wouldn’t want to spend millions building a 3rd complete car, transporting it and it’s support equipment and crew just to have a rookie prang it in P1 so they’d want the Dario Franchittis and Sebastien Loebs of the world to do it. These guys would find it hard to step out of the series’ they dominate and be shown up so I can’t see it happening.

  16. olderguysrule says:

    James,
    There was a CNN news clip about Alexander Rossi last summer. Check it out. Interesting note, he is the youngest driver ever to get a FIA super licence. Or so says the CNN clip. And he just turned 20 years old a few months back. I for one hope he gets a shot.

    1. coefficient says:

      Are you sure thats right?

      You have to hold a super license to be in F1.

      I seem to remember Vettel raced for BMW in Turkey when he was 19. Maybe I’m mistaken.

      Also, I believe Alguersari was 19 in his first season with Torro Rosso.

      Also, I’m not sure when he got his super license but Button was testing F1 cars at 19 and you tend to get your license granted after so many miles of testing under your belt I believe.

      1. olderguysrule says:

        I guess James would know for sure, but I think a super licence is required to get in a F1 car. And the CNN clip said that Rossi got his at age 17.

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