Alexander Rossi: “People are Expecting a Championship”


Alexander Rossi is embarking on his second season in the GP2 Series with EQ8 Caterham Racing in 2014. The young American, still only 22 years old, took his first victory of his GP2 career on the Yas Marina Circuit at the season ending event in Abu Dhabi last year, and will want to build on the momentum that provided him and his team.

The American also remains part of the Caterham F1 team’s young driver programme, and will be seen running a couple of free practice sessions during the year as he continues his preparations for a move into F1 should the opportunity arise.

“The first season was quite challenging as we missed all of pre-season testing so we were on the back foot from the beginning,” said Rossi to The Checkered Flag. “However, through the year, we constantly improved and came good in the end. [To win in Abu Dhabi] was the culmination of the whole team working extremely hard throughout the year and to win the final race of the year gave everyone a whole renewed sense of confidence going into the off season.”

Rossi knows that this season is very important for his career if he is to get into a full-time drive in Formula 1. He has remained with the Caterham team for a second season (his first full season) in the GP2 Series, and knows the expectation people are putting on him now he has the experience, especially after his Abu Dhabi victory.

“[2014 is] probably the most important year of my career. It is my second year in GP2 and I am staying with the same team. Last year, we were the best rookie and now people are expecting a championship.  I came into this season wanting to win the championship. This remains the same and I am committing all of myself to make this happen.”

In the first round of the season in Bahrain, nothing seemed to go right for Rossi or his Caterham team. He suffered high tyre degradation and ended up with two finishes well out of the top ten when tipped for victory after strong pre-season tests. But the American is determined to look forward and do better in Spain.

“Bahrain was a bit of a disaster, but that was three weeks ago. We don’t dwell on the negatives and we come back to Spain ready to fight back and do the best that we can to be at the top again.”

Since 2010, Rossi has raced in the GP3 Series, Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2, and has been quick and won races in all of them. He spoke about the differences in each of them and how he had to adapt to each of them.

“The GP3 car is obviously the slowest, then the FR3.5, then GP2, then F1. Each step is a little bit more complex and there is more to understand. But at the end of the day, they are all racecars and in order to be fast, the techniques are the same across all the platforms. I am a firm believer that if you can be fast in one, then you can be fast in the others.

“As my engineer says, every day is a learning day. This is the same with everything we do in life and it certainly applies to motorsports. The last two years, the learning curve has perhaps been steeper than in previous years because the Pirelli tire in GP2 is incredibly difficult to understand and optimise.”

It was recently announced that the young American will be stepping back into a F1 car for the first free practice sessions in Montreal and Austin with Caterham. He was obviously happy to be confirmed, and believes it will help him to get closer to his aim of becoming a full-time F1 race driver.

“I am pleased to be [getting] back in an F1 car, but also equally pleased to be able to continue my involvement with the Formula 1 team and to go to all of the non-GP2 races as the reserve driver to continue developing into a full time race driver.

“It is every racing drivers dream and to be able to do it at such a young age (17) it gave me tremendous motivation to be successful so that I would get more chances to be back in an F1 race.”