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Posted By: James Allen  |  02 May 2013   |  5:53 pm GMT  |  34 comments

Caterham reserve driver Alexander Rossi will get his first taste of the team’s 2013 Formula 1 challenger when he takes to the wheel in Friday’s first practice for the Canadian Grand Prix.

The American was expected to drive the car on Friday morning in Bahrain, but a combination of Heikki Kovalainen returning to the team in a reserve role and Rossi getting a drive for the team’s GP2 outfit meant it didn’t happen.

“Obviously the weekends that I’m not doing GP2 I’ll be looking to be drive the F1 car in Friday practice sessions and that will start in Montreal,” he told ESPN.

“Beyond that I’ll be doing at least one more, and possibly others, but it’s hard to say exactly what will happen because in F1 you never know for certain until you’re in the car. Whatever happens, the more time you can spend in an F1 car the better.”

The 21-year-old, who finished third in the Formula Renault 3.5 series in 2011, impressed many in the paddock by finishing on the GP2 podium in Bahrain despite having missed the opening round as well as not completing any pre-season testing.

He got his head around the new style of Pirelli tyres quickly, managing them to perfection to finish third at Sakhir, and now he has set his sights on winning the title.

Rossi added: “I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a run at the championship this year and that’s what I’ve got to target. I’ve only scored points in one of the opening four races but I’m still seventh in the championship. There are still 18 races left so it’s a long season.”

Caterham will bring a big update package to the Spanish Grand Prix as they battle to wrestle 10th place in the constructors’ championship off rivals Marussia who have had the upper hand so far this season.

The team tried 35% of the update on Charles Pic’s car in Bahrain and it demonstrated a big improvement. Pic finished 17th, ahead of Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, both Marussias and his team mate Giedo van der Garde.

In the past, the team have brought big updates to Spain, but significant gains have failed to materialise. Friday will prove vital as the team focus on getting an understanding of the rest of their update package ahead of qualifying.

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34 Comments
  1. CharlieG says:

    I really hope Rossi makes it into F1. I think an american driver will help greatly increase interest in F1 here in the US.

    The first thing my mom asked when I watched a race with her was whether there were any americans in the race.

  2. Zombie says:

    About time we have an American driver on the grid. F1 needs US far more than US needs F1. There’s a huge support for US riders competing in Motogp, and unlike F1, Motogp has always had a strong and continued contention from states. I hope someday we’ll have atleast 2 Americans on the F1 grid.

    1. David says:

      F1 is doing quite well without America, thank you. The second most watched (television – after the Olympics))on the planet. I’d love to see more American involvement (where are today’s Dan Gurney’s?),but it’s certainly not essential to the health of the sport. If there was an American good enough, I’m sure they would be there.

      1. mhilgtx says:

        And yet their TV package generates the same amount of money as NASCAR. Think about it, the largest economy in the world F1 has largely ignored.

      2. David says:

        Source? I find that hard to believe. F1 has tried to make in-roads into the U.S. market but with limited success. Might have something to do with American culture and taste. Football (soccer) is the number 1 sport everywhere in the world except the U.S.

      3. mhilgtx says:

        @David here is a source it covers Fox and what is projected for ESPN and does not include all the other countries NASCAR is shown in.

        http://aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-10-15/nascar-fox-tv-contract-deal-sprint-cup-series-espn-turner-speed

        It works out to about $800 million a year I think I wrong said about a billion, but I think F1 is also around $800 million. Total revenues are similar BUT NASCAR has a much different business model in that they own many of the tracks and all of or most of the IP like T shirts and the like. Once the TV deals are done NASCAR itself will generate almost $ 2 billion a year if my back of the napkin math is correct.

        I view NASCAR as a regional sport with it’s heaviest viewership in the South East and rural Midwest. Those are not the most heavily populated areas of the country.

        F1 is pretty sophisticated and I would think their market would be more attractive to the urban population centers like NY, LA, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, ….

        TV deals in the us seem to be much larger than in other parts of the world since our TV viewership is based primarily on pay TV, even “free” TV has commercials. The Texas Rangers baseball team just signed a deal for $150 million a year for 20 years with Fox (Skysports in the UK). The LA Dodgers and Angels just signed TV Deals with Fox for $300 million each with Fox. Those deals are both for LOCAL broadcast only. By local I mean only in Dallas/Ft Worth for the Rangers and LA for the Dodgers and Angels.

        So I think that F1 is missing the boat on not penetrating the market, like I laid out below there are some things they would have to clean up.

        By the way I am in the Automotive Advertising business so while not an expert on these types of big deals I do have a little understanding of how much money there is to grab.

      4. Zombie says:

        Maybe you should’ve told that to Martin Whitmarsh who said the same as i back in 2011. FOM doesnt even release TV audience figures so to compare it to Olympics,Football,basketball etc is fallacy.

        All those things aside, F1 is all about commerce, and car companies know which side of their bread is buttered. They have to be idiots to ignore a 15 trillion $ economy, 3rd largest population and the largest car market for everyone from Renault( Nissan ) to Ferrari.

        It is no surprise that Motogp has held a race each in both coasts of US, and has added a third race this year . More importantly they have continued their presence in US attracting more competitors and fans.

        If money is not essential for F1, i wonder what they are doing in China and India then ?

      5. David says:

        My source for tv figures are independent monitoring agencies (Neilson) which to networks use to base the advertising rates on. Other than that I totally agree with you. I believe Whitmarsh made his statement in Montreal (my hometown) and Mercedes, BMW, Honda, Toyota and Renault also chimed in. F1 people are not stupid, they know what a market in the U.S. means and they’re trying. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

  3. goferet says:

    Crickey.

    Having your first go in an F1 car at the Canadian Grand Prix free practice with all of it’s notorious walls is rather risky.

    Hopefully Caterham have factored in the possibility of taking a couple of extra front wings, they just might come in handy.

    Meanwhile this move to give Rossi time in the car may in effect have put to bed any hopes of Heikki making a comeback >>> darn shame.

    As for Caterham’s promised big upgrade, Pic’s performance in Bahrain sure was promising as the battle for 10th place in the WCC standings is going to be fascinating maybe as much as the battle at the front.

    1. delow24 says:

      They will need more than a couple wings. It is not like Pic or van der Garde are long time veterans either.

    2. DMyers says:

      Well, the putting to bed of “Kovalainen to a race seat” will only be true if van der Garde isn’t replaced…

    3. dave sweeney says:

      This actually will not be Alex’s “first go in an F1 car” He has tested with other teams. His record is impressive and incremental. I have watched him for the past five years and see a steady direction. He is one to invest in now, before he get’s the seat and his value goes through the roof!!!

  4. petes says:

    All well and good but Rossi’s occupance of the drivers seat will only be sufficient to ensure the team honors it’s obligation for the money he bought to the seat.

    1. Benjamin says:

      Rossi brings no money for free practice. He’s a driver from Caterham’s driver development programme.

  5. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Isn’t that the new guy from “two and a half men”?

    Are we being punk’d?!

  6. Tank says:

    I know that the young guns on the periphery of F1 seem to be quite well-funded, but I really question Caterham’s logic in this move. Clearly Pic and Van Der Garde need more seat time to hone their car-development skills, as evidenced by the return of Kovaleinen in practice in Bahrain. The walls around the Canadian circuit tend to have some magnetism attached to them, so how will the race drivers be affected if their ‘Friday tester’ stuffs it into the wall? Caterham are in a fight to the death with Marussia at the moment, and I’ll put my neck out and say that the Friday tester role is possibly one of the reasons why Bruno Senna is out of F1 at the moment…

  7. Denis 68 says:

    I honestly fail to see what all the hype is about with Alexander Rossi.

    He’s very average at the very best.

    1. dave sweeney says:

      Failing to see could be due to not looking in the right place. Maybe you should look at his progress and keep your comment ready to post publically again in a years time!

  8. JCA says:

    If I were running one of the big team’s young driver programs, I’d try to get a good american driver and enter him in Indycar. He can still fly over regularly to use the simulator and do the YDT, while making a name for himself in the US.

    1. mhilgtx says:

      +1

    2. JoeP says:

      “He can still fly over regularly to use the simulator and do the YDT, while making a name for himself in the US.” ——— YEAH! That worked out really well in the case of Michael Andretti at McLaren, flying back and forth b/w USA and Europe. Well, it worked out for Mika Häkkinen, that is…

      1. JCA says:

        OK, point taken, though that came more from Andretti’s side, as in he never totally committed emotionally to Mclarren, back then the drivers tested the car a lot, that’s how Hamilton and Vettel started so well.

        Maybe my guy should live in Europe during the year and fly to America for tests and races. He should also spend his teenage years in european series. I’m just spitballing here!

      2. JCA says:

        Sorry, I sort of misunderstood your point, true problem with Andretti was, he tried to race in F1 while commuting from America (he also struggled with the high tech of F1), my guy would live in europe while racing in F1 and other series (Formula Renault for example), also developing technological knowledge. Like I said, just a bit of fun.

      3. JoeP says:

        No problem. Yes, I was mocking Andretti’s strategy of basing himself in the USA while commuting to Europe to race in F1, which seems foolhardy to me. But in retrospect it probably wasn’t a fair/effective analogy on my part, since you’re suggesting Rossi be based in USA for his full-time commitment – Indycar – whereas Andretti’s full-time responsibilities were in F1 w/ McLaren. I don’t know what Rossi would do living in Europe if he was racing a full domestic series in the USA! Clearly we agree that you need to live on the continent where your full-time commitment will be realized, whether it’s USA for Indy or Europe for an F1-feeder series or other category (like DTM, for ex.).

        Thanks for following up though.

  9. mhilgtx says:

    I don’t know if Rossi is good or not. I guess we will get a gauge of his talent level this year with him running in GP2.

    I am confounded at F1′s past treatment of the US market. Setting race times to be as inconvenient as possible. The whole 2005 Indy GP fiasco. Not making sure they have at least one race a year here. The list goes on.

    It looks like Bernie or someone has at least started to recognize the fact that this market is at least needed if not critical for F1 to succeed with the COA in Austin and the new GP in New Jersey. I also saw that he is in talks with Long Beach again. I think I saw something about Mexico as well. F1 really needs at least 25-30% of its events to happen in North America for it to penetrate over here above for more than a .5 share audience to be reality. If the British Open can have their events in more TV friendly time slots why can’t the Monaco Grand Prix? This is actually a question, is it because there would be a chance of the event running into night?

    I would really like to see at least one US based team. They could have their factory in the UK just like everyone else but it would be better if the whole thing was here. It’s not like we don’t have aerodynamic engineers here.

    Why do I think F1 would benefit from a larger US presence? Well for one I think the TV income from the US alone would increase the total TV package by as much as 50%.

    Once again I go back to NASCAR’s TV deal. NASCAR is embeded and part of the fabric of our motor sports history here so I am not saying that F1 would be able to match those dollar figures. But overtime with a little effort I believe it could get to around 50% of those dollars. NASCAR’s future TV contracts will pay it almost $1 billion a year. There is no reasoon to believe that if F1 played its cards right they couldn’t get to $300-$400 pretty quick.

    One large obstacle, that I see to F1′s success though other than the scheduling is it’s ruling body and lack of transparency. The US audience won’t put up with shoddy race stewarding making crazy biased rulings like they have in the past. I watched a NASCAR race last weekend and a driver was penalized for not having 2 tires (tyres) in the pit entry box. That team appealed and was able to overturn that ruling all in the mater of a few laps of the race using video right then. That kind of immediate ruling, ie not waiting to penalize for the next race, and immediate litigation and execution are a must. F1 will never get away with penalizing Senna for cutting a corner after being spun off and not the 3 other cars in the field that did the same thing. If you have watched “Senna” you will know what I am talking about.

    One last thing will need to change and maybe this is the kicker for Bernie and the teams, US sponsors tend to like a much more sponsor focused message than I see with F1. Viewers like a good fight and much less whining. Like I saw of Webber and Seb passing him and drivers complaining about things being fair.

    Sorry for my rant but man I have fallen in love with this sport and I just wished it was as accessible as NASCAR or even IndyCar. I also wished they had 25 or more races this taking off for 3 weeks is KLLING ME.

    1. JCA says:

      If you change te race times for the US, you inconvenience other parts of the world, the pitfalls of trying to run a global sport.

      1. mhilgtx says:

        I would inconvenience the other parts of the world as long as it wasn’t the EU and North America.

    2. JoeP says:

      Firstly, I can totally appreciate the emotion you feel for F1 – including the frustration of being a fan in USA (based on your statement, “They could have their factory in the UK just like everyone else but it would be better if the whole thing was here.”)!

      Secondly, I’m less-sanguine about the potential of the US market for F1. Not discounting the changes you suggest, but Formula 1 seems to me to be similar to European professional road cycling in that, even with a US-star or a US-based event, the sport is simply too “European” or “Continental” to ever appeal to a mass-audience in USA like NASCAR does (and even NASCAR’s fan base is not pan-American, but heavily concentrated geographically, iirc).

      I don’t have data at my fingertips to back this up, and fully acknowledge that it’s an opinion based on informal observation over many years. I could be totally wrong though, and the US might represent a major source of untapped revenue and sponsorship for F1, if only the sport was tweaked like you suggest.

      One thing’s for sure though, after reading much of the coverage by Dieter Rencken of F1′s business and political drama (ex. “The political rows that could rock F1 in 2013″ http://bbs.hupu.com/4941675.html excerpt: “A calendar that is still not definitive, a Concorde agreement that is not yet settled, and some major legal battles are the issues threatening to rock F1 this year, as Dieter Rencken explains…”), I hate CVC and their vulture-fund approach to sucking money out of the sport and am concerned about its long-term health and sustainability, let alone growth potential!

      [note: I recommend you read all that you can find from Rencken, even stuff from 2012 as it presents a fascinating look at the business of F1 behind-the-scenes, warts, bribes, corruption, lawsuits and all! (but not in a sleazy/sensational way...it's really good reporting imo)]

      1. mhilgtx says:

        Thanks for the information.

        Just like Cycling and Soccer, you are right F1 will have tough hill to climb. But I think it can be done with enough elbow grease. It all boils down to who or what will replace Bernie. CVC could end up being broken up or it could come out of this all the stronger.

        I know that as I have thought over why F1 stayed away from the US the number one thing I keep thinking is corruption. I think the US lawsuit will be very telling as our rules on discovery are extremely liberal. I also think Bernie’s chance of dodging it are nil. If he tries to much some hot shot needing to make a name for himself US Prosecutor will step in.

    3. JoeP says:

      Wanted to share this article with you:

      ‘What F1 needs to do to win over America’

      “Formula 1 is back in the United States, hoping this time it can win over the American audience for good. But, as Dieter Rencken explains, grand prix racing needs more than a fancy new circuit to make it big in America…”

      http://bbs.hupu.com/4610493.html

      Here’s something on NASCAR that doesn’t bode well for F1, by extension:

      “Just this week the Wall Street Journal published its extremely perturbing take on the category’s status quo: “NASCAR, the nation’s richest and most popular form of motorsport, has experienced a fall-off so steep in recent years that the roaring ambitions of the past have been throttled down. Rather than adding that extra capacity [as it did in previous seasons], Martinsville Speedway has gone in the other direction: It got rid of thousands of existing seats instead.”
      The report goes on to say that: “The worry among insiders is that NASCAR may have experienced its heyday in the early 2000s, the way men’s tennis did in the 1980s and Indy car racing did in the ’70s. In a bid to grow roots beyond the South, NASCAR a decade ago expanded aggressively, lengthening the season and opening new tracks. But no sooner did NASCAR move races to California and Kansas than fan enthusiasm cooled, even at classic tracks such as Martinsville.””

      1. mhilgtx says:

        Yet NASCAR just redid one of its TV deals and increased it by over 20% and the ESPN-ABC deal is expected to increase by the same or more. They are also up to 150 countries. Not sure what it all means for them.

  10. JoeP says:

    Although I picked an atypical, low-comment article onto which to append my comment, i just want to say to James how much I appreciate this site, and how impressed I am by the high-level of intelligence and insight that characterizes the user-generated discussions that follow the articles. I just read through a few articles on a “competing” F1 fanatic blog/site and the sheer idiocy of the commentators is overwhelming and off-putting. I wish James posted more, and produced more podcasts, but the content that he does create is great, and the fans of this site are the best of any F1 blog!!

    1. mhilgtx says:

      I totally agree.

      Although with higher volume comes the risk of lower quality and James info is pretty well spot on. So there is that.

      1. JoeP says:

        “I totally agree. Although with higher volume comes the risk of lower quality and James info is pretty well spot on…”

        Cool, I’m glad we agree – and yes, I agree with you, that the more popular and frequented a site becomes, the greater potential for dilution of the quality comment pool.

        I love F1 – I really do. And I’ve been lucky to have some really interesting exchanges with other fans though sites like James Allen’s, and also with major figures in the sport like Paul Hembery – all facilitated by the wonders of the Internet, email and social media. That’s another thing I like about this place – James’s willingness to engage to some degree with his readers. In fact, the two F1 sites I frequent most often share that characteristic – their proprietors/founders interact directly with the readers. Good stuff… Cheers!

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