Marussia Formula One team’s test and reserve driver Alexander Rossi is to make his debut at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix in place of regular driver Max Chilton.
The American has impressed in the GP2 series as well as in Free Practice 1 sessions both last season and this season for Caterham. Despite this, he was dropped and was picked up by rivals Marussia by the German Grand Prix. Rossi takes Chilton’s place for this race due to contractual issues for the British driver.
Rossi will be the first American to race in Formula One since Scott Speed in 2007. Speed fell out with Toro Rosso and was replaced by Sebastian Vettel mid-season.
Team principal John Booth wrote in a statement issued by the team: “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-Franchorchamps.”
Rossi was not quite expecting to have to find his race boots so quickly into his Marussia career: “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.”
A statement from Chilton’s management team suggested that the Brit voluntarily ‘sold’ his seat in the best interest of the team: “Max Chilton has volunteered to step out of his race seat for the weekend’s race in Spa, Belgium to allow the team to attract much needed funds by selling his seat.”
Caterham will also be running a rookie at Spa, Andre lotterer.