Photo: Malcolm Griffiths/GP2 Series Media Service
Alexander Rossi will indeed race for Caterham’s GP2 Series team this season, replacing Ma Qing Hua from this weekend’s races in Bahrain as part of a driver reshuffle for the Formula 1 outfit.
Over the winter, Rossi had been expected to make the step up to GP2 with Caterham after two years in Formula Renault 3.5. He was left out though, instead settling for an F1 reserve role as Ma and Sergio Canamasas took the GP2 race seats.
Ma qualified a solid 19th for his GP2 debut in Malaysia, though the rest of his weekend was marred by an illness. He ran with Caterham in F1 first practice last Friday at his home Grand Prix in China. The team’s former racer Heikki Kovalainen has now joined Rossi as a reserve driver, running in free practice in Bahrain to help the team develop its car. Caterham says Ma remains part of their roster of drivers, and “an announcement about his revised race plans in 2013 will be made in due course.”
Rossi previously raced in GP2 in the Asia Series back in 2009-10 for the now-defunct Ocean team, and then for Caterham at the non-championship race in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2011.
Caterham says his first F1 practice appearance of the year will come at the Canadian Grand Prix.
“I look forward to racing this weekend in Bahrain and getting started with the Caterham Racing GP2 team,” said the American driver.
“I know the team well and I’m fitter than I’ve ever been and a GP2 programme complimenting my F1 duties for Caterham F1 Team is a good balance and I’m confident we’ll do a great job together. ?My goal is to win and Caterham Racing has shown in its first couple of years of GP2 that they can do this. My plan is to carry this trend forward. I want to thank Tony, Cyril, Mia and all the people at Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Racing for their continued belief in me.”
Mia Sharizman, the recently-appointed team principal of the GP2 team, added: “Alexander has all the attributes needed for a racing driver to be successful at the very highest levels of motorsport. He is quick, he has very good racecraft and his technical insights will help us develop our car from the first laps he drives this weekend in Bahrain.
“While he’s moving into our team for this season, and combining GP2 with his F1 commitments, we’re also working closely with Ma to secure an alternative plan for him in 2013. He performed very well in China for the F1 team and that has opened up a number of very interesting new opportunities for him and us and we’ll announce a revised plan for him soon.”