BANBURY, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom — official release — American Alexander Rossi will make his Formula One race debut for Marussia this weekend as the Formula One World Championship heads to Belgium’s Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Rossi, 22, will replace Max Chilton, who will sit out the Belgian Grand Prix while the two sides resolve contractual issues. Rossi only joined Marussia as test and reserve driver last month after previously serving in a similar role at Caterham, contesting four Friday practice sessions over the past three seasons.
“It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to race in Formula One for the first time,” Rossi said. “I cannot thank the Marussia F1 Team enough for the faith they are demonstrating in me. 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.”
Team principal John Booth admitted the driver change had not been planned and said the team is hoping to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
“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 said.
Rossi becomes the first American driver to race in Formula One since Scott Speed in 2006 and 2007.