For the first time in several years, an American will be driving a Formula 1 car in an official, points-bearing Grand Prix championship race. Marussia made the announcement on Thursday, August 21, that American racer Alexander Rossi, the team's new reserve driver, will fill in for British driver Max Chilton this weekend at Spa "while contract negotiations are resolved" for the latter driver.
About the new development, Rossi said, "It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to race in Formula 1 for the first time. I cannot thank the Marussia F1 Team enough for the faith they are demonstrating in me."
Rossi continued, "It's a very big moment for me and there's a lot to prepare in a short space of time, but on the other hand I have felt ready for this for quite a while now. It is also exciting to be given this opportunity at such a fantastic and historical circuit as Spa-Francorchamps. I can't wait to drive the MR03 from tomorrow and I hope to reward the team with a solid race weekend."
For its part, Marussia team principal John Booth said that the Rossi debut was unexpected, but the team is pleased to offer him the opportunity since the occasion was needed: "Although it was not our intention to offer Alexander the possibility to race this season, in light of the circumstances we are pleased to be providing him with the opportunity to make his Grand Prix debut at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Franchorchamps."
Booth went on, "Naturally we hope to resume normal service with respect to our established race driver line-up as soon as possible, but for now we wish Alexander well for the weekend ahead and we look forward to seeing him in action."
According to Formula 1, Rossi is the first American to formally race in F1 since Scott Speed's last appearance for Toro Rosso at the Nurburgring in July, 2007.
Rossi will also be the second driver to make his debut at Spa this weekend. Caterham will replace Kamui Kobayashi with three-time Le Mans 24-hour winner, Andre Lotterer.
The Belgian Grand Prix is slated to take place at Spa-Franchorchamps on August 24.