There has not been an American driver on a Formula 1 grid since November 15, 2015, when Alexander Rossi lined up for the Brazilian Grand Prix in 17th place for Manor.
A final record of five starts, zero points and a best finish of 12th is scant reward for an entire junior career spent climbing to F1. On the other hand, that inability to secure a full-time seat led to Rossi being snapped up by Andretti to race in IndyCar, where he’s gone on to become one of the most recognizable names in racing in the United States.
So was the F1 disappointment a blessing in disguise?
“Hugely,” Rossi replies as soon as RACER suggests as much. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.
“At the time it was a really hard pill to swallow and very upsetting, but then when I got racing in IndyCar – way before the 500 – after St. Pete and the first race, even though it was the first time in my career I’ve legitimately gone a lap down because of pace, because we were just that bad, I left there and I was like, ‘That was actually awesome.’ I enjoyed driving a race car again, and I enjoyed being at the racetrack.
“It was great to be able to be introduced to IndyCar. It was a weird way that it happened, obviously, but it was a huge blessing and I’m very thankful that it all worked out the way that it did.”
Relaxing inside the Acura Team Penske transporter at Daytona during the Rolex 24 weekend, it’s easy to see why Rossi holds that view. He’s moonlighting as part of one of the biggest operations with one of the sport’s most famous teams, while he races full-time for another massive name in IndyCar.
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