American Alexander Rossi will be the official reserve driver for Manor Racing this season while also competing in the US-based Indy Racing League (IRL), the Formula One team said on Wednesday.
Rossi raced for the F1 team last year when they were known as Marussia. The team said he would be the first driver to perform simultaneous IndyCar and F1 roles.
The Californian will attend 11 grands prix with Manor Racing, starting with Russia at the end of April, and be available to stand in at short notice if required. Only five of those races take place during the IRL season.
“I’ve invested most of my career in F1 and I’m not one to kick my heels and wait for things to happen, so this is my way of staying sharp and prepared,” said Rossi.
The Mercedes-powered team’s regular race drivers are both rookies, German Pascal Wehrlein and Indonesian Rio Haryanto.
Rossi said it had been disappointing to miss out on a race seat with Manor but he now had a dual programme at the highest level of motorsport.
“I’m confident this experience will add to my role as a very important cog in an F1 team’s wheel,” he added. “My schedule this year is demanding, but no more than a full time F1 schedule.”
The Formula One season starts with the Australian Grand Prix next week.
meanwhile organisers of his home race, the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, are set to end months of uncertainty about their October 23 race and confirm that it will go ahead after scheduling a news conference for Wednesday.
“It isn’t confirmed until we pay, and as of today no money has been paid,” Circuit of the Americas (COTA) President Bobby Epstein told Reuters on Tuesday when asked whether the deal was done.
“We haven’t paid a dime yet. But watch this space.”
The race is currently listed on the official calendar with an asterisk against it as subject to agreement with commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone due to uncertainty over the extent of state funding.
Ecclestone has said repeatedly since December that he expected it to go ahead.
The only round of the championship in the United States is important for teams and sponsors, and popular with fans and drivers. Last year, it saw Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton secure his third world championship.
Media reports in November said that Texas state subsidies were being reduced by more than 20 per cent to around $19.5 million (Dh71.6m) from $25 million (Dh91.8m).
The payment is based on a formula for calculating how much economic activity the race generates for Texas.
Bad weather also hit revenues significantly last year. Saturday’s final practice took place behind closed doors and, when fans were admitted, qualifying could not go ahead and was postponed until the Sunday morning.
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