• Alexander Rossi exclusive interview

'I'm definitely ready for F1'

Chris Medland at the Circuit of the Americas November 16, 2013

Alexander Rossi speaks exclusively to ESPN after his Friday practice outing for Caterham in Austin about his weekend and hopes for 2014

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It was a big day for you in front of the home crowd, how do you think it went?
I think it went really well to be honest. It was a bit touch and go in the beginning with the fog and everything, but we were able to complete the run and I think we got all the information that we needed to so there's nothing more than you could ask for.

So you didn't miss out on any planned running?
No, which was a big plus.

Obviously the timesheets have you ahead of [team-mate] Charles [Pic], was that down to the run plans or can we read anything in to that?
The cars and the run plans were the same, so it was a good session for us. I'm definitely pleased with that seeing as it has been a while since I've been in the car and I obviously haven't driven this track before. It was definitely a positive day and coming of the back of Abu Dhabi and everything it's been a good couple of weeks.

There's been a lot of hype around you this week even just driving in FP1, has it been hard to focus?
Not really, people have actually commented that I don't seem excited enough! But at the end of the day I realise that this is a much bigger operation than just me driving on Friday and there's a lot of things that we have at stake, especially 10th in the constructors' and such. So my primary goal was just to treat it like another day in a race car and just to do the best job for the team because as the reserve driver they look to me to do a good job and not get starstruck by the whole thing and just to get on with it. I'm quite pleased that we were able to do that and there was no mistakes.

How does the rest of the weekend pan out for you now, is it any different to a normal weekend?
Yeah it's a bit busier for me, which I will welcome because normally it's quite quiet and a little bit boring to be honest! Obviously I'll attend all the normal technical briefings and everything, but there's just a bit more media interest and such. Then obviously because this is the home of Dell - who are a big partner of ours - there are quite a few Dell events at night, but it's great because I get to hang out with fellow Americans and just chat about racing.

As you took part in FP1, will you now have a bigger role in those technical briefings?
A little bit but now Friday is done that will kind of diminish because I haven't driven on the medium tyre and the conditions it will be different. So I gave my input [on Friday] and they can take it; I think that our car is alright for the weekend but we're never going to find a second are we?

You mentioned you've had a good couple of weeks and won in GP2 last week, but now we're here there's been a lot of clamour for an American F1 driver; is your focus still on another assault on GP2 next year?
My goal is F1. I'd love to be a race driver, obviously, it's what I've been working for since I was a kid. But there are a lot of factors that need to line up for that to happen; it's not just about being able to drive the car quickly. I mean, I'll push for that as hard as I can but at the end of the day if the back-up option is GP2 I don't think that's a bad thing.

Do you feel primed for a real title assault next year after the way you finished this season?
Yeah, definitely. In the latter half of the season we really got our heads round the car and I got my head round the tyres. It's amazing how much you can progress just by the seat time. Abu Dhabi was good but the tests afterwards were good as well and I think we have a good handle on the car because the chassis is staying the same and the tyres aren't changing next year in GP2. I think that we can definitely push quite hard for a championship which at the end of the day would be a very good thing for my career.

What are the things that you feel you need to align aside from the driving for F1; what are the main ones that you need to work on?
Budget. And backing. That's the way it is, that's the topic that goes up and down the pit lane but at the end of the day it's the same for everyone. It's not a good or a bad thing because frankly everyone that's in F1 right now can win a race in a junior formula so it's just part of what we need to do. At the moment I don't have any budget so that's why I'm not getting my hopes up too much about a race seat.

Is that what makes weekends like this even more important then? To show potential backers from the US that you are that close?
Yeah, absolutely. I think that every time you get in to an F1 car it is a little bit of a test and you need to take those opportunities because they are so rare to do your best and shine and show what you're capable of. I think [on Friday] we definitely did that.

And based on performances like in FP1 I assume you feel fully prepared that you can make that step?
Absolutely. The fact that I was able to get on pace in the car within six or seven laps I feel that I'm definitely ready for F1. If you look at the past couple of years I've had quite a bit of time in an F1 car for a young driver, so it's not really a new thing for me anymore. I mean, it is still great fun to get in the car because it is such a rare thing but I'm very used to how all the systems work, working with a team of this size and to driving a car of that magnitude. So at the end I would love to see what it's like to be able to race."

Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1

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Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1 Chris Medland, who in his youth even found the Pacific GPs entertaining, talked his way in to work at the British Grand Prix and was somehow retained for three years. He also worked on the BBC's F1 output prior to becoming assistant editor ahead of the 2011 season