By Frank Santoroski, Contributing Writer
American driver, Alexander Rossi, who is preparing for his Verizon IndyCar Series debut this weekend in St. Petersburg, has suddenly found some extra work on his plate.
Rossi was announced as the official reserve driver for the Manor Formula One Team in 2016, making Rossi the first driver to have roles in both of the top-tier open-wheel series concurrently.
The Manor team has worked with Rossi on a schedule that will allow him to fulfill his duties at Andretti Autosport while attending eleven Grands Prix with the Manor Team.
Five of those will take place on off-weekends for IndyCar, while the final six will occur after the American-based Series has concluded their season.
“I’ve invested most of my career in F-1 and I’m not one to kick my heels and wait for things to happen,” said Rossi. “So this is my way of staying sharp and prepared. It was disappointing to miss out on a race seat with Manor Racing this year; everyone knows I pushed and worked hard for it. As official reserve driver, though, I have a very complimentary dual program at the highest level of motorsport.”
The expectations with the position at Manor will give him test time in the car as well as an opportunity to contribute to marketing activities. Additionally, there is a clause that will see him ready to take over driver duties if needed.
While Rio Haryanto remains on the Manor roster as the driver, there is some speculation that his funding is not 100% guaranteed. Rossi becomes a solid backup option, should the team need a driver on short notice.
Rossi competed in five Grands Prix with Manor in 2015, with a career-best result of 12th during the US Grand Prix in Austin, TX.
“I also have the privilege of racing with a championship-winning team, Andretti Autosport. I’m confident this experience will add to my role as a very important cog in an F-1 team’s wheel. My schedule this year is demanding, but no more than a full-time F1 schedule,” said Rossi.
“I am certainly used to the travel demands of the F-1 calendar. It’s great to be back with a team I know and with whom I share a mutual respect and passion for the sport we love.”
Image: Brian Simpson/INDYCAR