American Alexander Rossi will make his Formula 1 debut this weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix after contractual issues at Marussia cost Max Chilton his drive, at least for the race at Spa-Francorchamps. He will join regular driver Jules Bianchi in the team.
Rossi only joined the team last season when he left both the Caterham F1 and GP2 Series teams, and becomes the first American F1 driver since Scott Speed raced at the 2007 European Grand Prix for the Toro Rosso team.
“It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to race in Formula 1 for the first time and I cannot thank the Marussia F1 team for the faith they are demonstrating in me,” said Rossi. “It’s a very big moment for me and there’s a lot to prepare in a short space of time, but on the other hand I have felt ready for this for quite a while now.
“It is also exciting to be given this opportunity at such a fantastic and historical circuit as Spa-Francorchamps. I can’t wait to drive the MR03 from tomorrow and I hope to reward the team with a solid race weekend.”
Team boss John Booth is hopeful the contractual dispute with regular driver Chilton can be resolved so he can resume his F1 career with the team, but is happy to see Rossi join the line-up for Spa in his place.
“Although it was not our intention to offer Alexander the possibility to race this season, in light of the circumstances we are pleased to be providing him with the opportunity to make his Grand Prix debut at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps,” said Booth. “Naturally we hope to resume normal service with respect to our established race driver line-up as soon as possible, but for now we wish Alexander well for the weekend ahead and we look forward to seeing him in action.”
Rossi’s arrival at Marussia is the second driver change to be confirmed for the race at Spa-Francorchamps after Andre Lotterer was handed his debut for the Caterham F1 Team in place of Kamui Kobayashi.