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Rossi to get FP1 mileage as Caterham test driver

by Peter Allen

Photo: Caterham/Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic

American hotshot to get Friday free practice runs for Caterham after being announced as a test driver for the team…

Alexander Rossi has been named as a test driver for the Caterham F1 Team, in a deal that will see him take part in Friday first practice sessions during the season.

The announcement was made together will the formal confirmation that he will contest a second season in Formula Renault 3.5, this time driving for the new Caterham Arden team. Having finished third in the standings last year he will begin amongst the favourites this time around – no doubt a key motivator in the decision to remain in the series rather than switch to GP2.

Rossi was signed to the team’s driver development programme early last year, and later drove in the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi. But this sees him become an official member of the team for the first time, and will join reserve driver Giedo van der Garde in getting a chance to drive in Friday practice.

“I am absolutely delighted that we have been able to make this dual announcement today,” said Rossi. “My goal to be in Formula One is one step closer after being signed as Test Driver for Caterham F1 Team. I want to thank Tony Fernandes, Kamarudin Meranun and Riad Asmat for their trust in me and long-term commitment to my career. The Caterham F1 Team support, coupled with the efforts of my management and investors, has brought my goal of reaching an F1 race seat one step closer.

“In the past year I have spent time in Hingham at the factory and built solid relationships right across the team. I feel really comfortable with everyone and am looking forward to growing as a professional with Caterham and acquiring as much experience as possible from Friday Practice, the F1 simulator and time with the team.

“Winter training has been very good as Pro Performance, Caterham F1 Team’s physios, are looking after all my fitness and nutrition, preparing me for this season and my next step to F1. I am fully ready for the task at hand. I have not been in a car since the F1 rookie test in Abu Dhabi last November, but have been on the simulator. I am very eager for World Series by Renault testing to begin next week and to get down to work, where I’ll be running with Arden Caterham in the classic green and yellow colors. The 2011 season was good, but now I have that experience under my belt and I’m determined to fight for the championship throughout the 2012 season. This is going to be an incredible year!”

Caterham team principal Tony Fernandes said: “Today’s announcement marks an important next step for Caterham F1 Team and Alexander’s career. As our Official F1 Test Driver, Alexander is a key figure in our long-term plans and the investment we are making in him now will help him make the most of the natural talent he has at his disposal. We see 2012 as an important year for Alexander as he will be combining a full calendar in World Series by Renault, a championship he has a very good chance of winning, with his Test Driver role and giving him the chance to take part in FP1 gives him the platform from which he can grow into an even bigger F1 role.”