Alexander Rossi: America's next F1 driver?

By on Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rossi attended the Singapore Grand Prix with Team Lotus. Photo credit: alexanderrossi.com

 

Alexander Rossi is currently the only American with an FIA superlicense and is part of Team Lotus's driver development program. F1Zone caught up with the 20 year old from California.

F1Zone: 3rd in World Series by Renault this year and top rookie, I guess it’s been a great season?

Alexander Rossi: In many it has been a great season, my best in Europe in fact; however, looking back there is many things that I wished had gone down differently as every weekend we had pace to challenge for race wins and the championship. With that being said, all in all, I am very happy with how 2011 went and my year with Fortec Motorsports in World Series by Renault.

F1Z: What’s the next step for you, GP2?

AR: The next step is a little unclear at the moment. I have taken part in the majority of the post-season GP2 tests and everyone has felt that they were successful, so now it is just the standard of case of waiting for a few things to shake themselves out. GP2 is certainly an option, but so is another year in WSR; both of which I feel would be beneficial in their own respective ways.

F1Z: Assuming F1 is the ultimate goal, how much does having two races in the USA help your prospects?

AR: F1 is absolutely the ultimate goal and having two races being announced stateside is very much a big boost. The feedback that we have seen from the Austin race alone has been significant, so one can only imagine that adding New Jersey to the calendar will only increase the premise that an American presence and participation in Formula 1 is desperately needed.

On the podium at Silverstone on the way to 3rd in the championship. Photo credit: alexanderrossi.com

F1Z: Is it realistic to think you could even race in Austin next season, just as a one-off?

AR: At this point, my focus is solely on taking the steps necessary to get a full time seat on the grid and while I am very excited about going to Austin with an association with an F1 team, there are no discussions of me actually being in a race seat for the event.

F1Z: Why do you think F1 has never cracked America? Because out of hundreds of American racers, you’re the only one with an FIA super license.

AR: F1 has struggled to break into America for a very simple reason-  the American people are very patriotic and they want something to get behind, support, and believe in. Whether that is through a team or driver, it doesn't matter so much as that when fans come to an event, they get the opportunity to see their countrymen in action who are inherent underdogs against the Europeans.

F1Z: What made you interested in F1, rather than IndyCar or NASCAR for example?

AR: I have been interested in Formula One since I first started in go-karts at ten years old. It started off with the basic fact that F1 cars where quicker than anything else in America. But once I got a bit older and started to realize what the sport was about - bringing the best teams, manufacturers, cars, and drivers in the world to compete on state of the art circuits across the globe, I became re-committed if you will. The levels of innovation that goes into these cars is absolutely mind boggling and it continues to evolve as rules and regulations get tighter and the teams somehow find ways to make the cars quicker yet.

Rossi demonstrated the Lotus T127 in Malaysia. Photo credit: alexanderrossi.com

F1Z: Having tested an F1 car previously, are you going to be taking part in the test in Abu Dhabi?

AR: I am for sure looking to take part in the Young Driver test in Abu Dhabi, but as of today's date, nothing has been confirmed.

F1Z: Regarding F1 this year, do you think it’s been improved by DRS & KERS or are you not a fan of these gimmicks?

AR: I think DRS and KERS have definitely added another element to the sport which proves that it is always on the cutting edge of technology and creativity. While I believe it has added some excitement to the races, the Pirelli tire has actually had the biggest contributing factor. I have some personal experience with the degradation factors of this tire through my tests in GP2 and it really requires an un-traditional approach in both driving style and car set up in order to protect the tires and keep some longevity.

F1Z: If you could design a racing circuit, what would it consist of?

AR: Elevation changes and large usable curbs. I miss the days of Monza when the entire car was jumping over the curb in order to straight-line chicanes as much as possible. The car would land with drivers on significant power and they would have to sort out the consequences on exit.

F1Z: Watching F1 as a racing driver yet to compete in it, do you think there’s anything about it you’d like to change?

AR: I wish that in-season testing would come back as it is very difficult for young drivers to get up to speed in the limited pre-season testing against drivers that have been competing at the level for the past 5-6 years.

F1Z: Do other forms of motorsport interest you or are you completely focused on F1?

AR: Honestly, I am only paying serious attention to Formula One, but with respect to nearly all of the junior formulas around the world.

F1Z: What are the best and worst aspects of being a racing driver?

AR: The best would definitely be the fact that I get to drive the quickest cars in the world on a professional level against some of the best drivers in the sport. The only downside that I can think of is the amount of strain it puts on everyone involved on all sides. Sure, it is the same in everything we do at a high level, but when everything comes down to money in the end it can become very frustrating. With that said though, it is the same for everyone so we have to embrace the good and bad as we continue to realize how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to compete in the best sport in the world.

With thanks to Pieter Rossi


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