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dasg234 Offline



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23.06.2018 16:12
three of his teammates. Heading into May a three of his teammates. Heading into May and to nd to Antworten

The 12 months which followed Alexander Rossis Formula One debut at the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix were remarkable. The California-born driver went from believing he had his first full-time F1 drive, to making a late switch to IndyCar, before winning the Indy 500 without a drop of fuel in his car as he crossed the finish line. Rookie of the Year honours followed at the end of a remarkable IndyCar season which could well be the first of a memorable career in North America.Its an unexpected twist to a journey which always seemed destined to lead to F1 - the path Rossi and his family chose at a young age when they moved to Europe to pursue the pinnacle of motorsport. With F1s next United States Grand Prix on the horizon, Americas newest racing hero spoke to ESPN about his rollercoaster year.A long-awaited F1 debutRossis chance to drive in F1 finally came in the latter part of 2015. Having missed out on several opportunities the previous season, the American was finally given the opportunity by Manor at five of the last seven races, starting under the lights at Singapores Marina Bay street circuit. His run included the race in Austin, Texas, where Manor ran a star-spangled banner on its rear wing, as Rossi missed out on points by just two places.On paper, his results -- 14th, 18th, 12th, 15th, 18th -- are unremarkable, but he was driving for a backmarker team, which had only returned to the grid on the eve of the 2015 season thanks to a last-minute rescue package. Rossi had done the only thing he could do: outpace his teammate. In the five races he partnered Will Stevens, he beat him in four (one of which saw Stevens retire in Austin, but he had been out-qualified by Rossi the day before).After his run in the cockpit, Rossi felt confident he had done enough to secure a place on the 2016 grid with Manor. Reflecting on his mindset after the race at Interlagos in November, he tells ESPN: I got out of the car in Brazil and felt like we had accomplished what we needed to. I had good feelings about how things were progressing into the off-season and felt very confident I was a front-runner to get a seat in 2016.I was always hoping it wouldnt get drawn out but I have been around the sport a lot and done deals in February before, so I knew it was very much a possibility and I was prepared for that.It was just as well Rossi knew what to expect, because a long wait was exactly what followed.A lifeline from AndrettiRossis nationality had seemingly made him a natural candidate for Haas, the American team that joined the grid in 2016. But Gene Haas had opted for experience over nationality by employing French driver Romain Grosjean, and honoured its technical tie-up with Ferrari by signing Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, who had spent a year at Maranello as test and reserve driver. Manor was the only remaining choice for Rossi.But Manor, boosted by the acquisition of the class-leading Mercedes engine for 2016, delayed on making an announcement until February, just when the pre-season tests were due to commence in Barcelona. Though he was yet to hear, Rossi fully expected to be one of the two drivers unveiling the teams new car in Spain.Really, I thought I had a shot. Well, more than a shot, I thought I had a seat all the way through to the second week of February. It was always the battle to try and find backing and supporters and everything to try and get the deal done -- in the end it was just not enough. It was something I was really mentally focused for and preparing for all the way until February.But that engine deal had an unexpected drawback for Rossi: the signing of Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein, meaning there was now just one seat up for grabs. Enter Rio Haryanto, the well-backed Indonesian driver, confirmed to a seat just days before the first test. Rossis plans had collapsed around him.The situation got challenging when they announced Pascal because then the last seat was going to be a battle, if you will, he admits. The great thing about Manor and the management is that they were always keeping us in the loop about things that are going on. So there was nothing found out through the internet, I always found out one or two days prior and we had time to react to that and try to deal with it.But yeah, they called and said that Rio had come with quite a good package and situation and for the long-term future of the team that was the direction they needed to go. However they very much wanted to keep me in the fold and part of the team and hopefully find me something for the future.For Rossi, being kept in the fold meant being offered a reserve driver role, something he kept throughout 2016, meaning he would be the man to step in if either Wehrlein or Haryanto were unable to compete. For someone who had been preparing for his first full season of F1, his lifes ambition, it was a bitter pill to swallow.I was pretty upset to go from thinking I had a race seat to a reserve seat, to be honest. It wasnt something I was initially super excited about! But then my Andretti deal came just over a week after that so I knew I would be in a position to be racing in 2016 and knew that part was covered, then the reserve role was more attractive.The Andretti Autosport deal actually came out of a tentative phone call around the same time Manor made a decision. Michael Andretti, team owner and son of 1978 world champion Mario, had called when Rossi was, he thought, on the verge of being announced at Manor. Though he had not made a concrete contingency plan, it turned out to be the perfect lifeline.Michael Andretti reached out at the beginning of February. Our initially reaction was, you know, thats wonderful, were honoured youre thinking of us but were quite far down the line with Manor, but were going to reach a decision point from them in the next couple of days.... Is it something we can wait a couple of days to let you know?And he was willing to do that, which was obviously a huge thing for us that he didnt just go to the next guy on his list, type of thing. As soon as we found out the option with Manor wasnt going to happen we immediately got on the phone to Michael and started trying to put a deal together.The discussions were swift -- Rossi was announced at the team on February 23 in the No. 98 car alongside Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz. The news was confirmed as the F1 community was at the Circuit de Catalunya, in between tests -- suddenly Rossi was on the verge of a rookie season in IndyCar.I was apprehensive at first, for sure. But IndyCar was something I considered at the start of 2015 and it was something Id opened my mind to at that time.So I had already gone through the mental process of thinking about ovals and thinking about moving back to America, so it wasnt as big a deal as it may have seemed because I had thought about it 12 months prior.A pitiful IndyCar debutAfter just one day of testing his new car, at Sebring in Florida, it was the opening weekend of the season at St Petersburg. The baptism by fire would continue with a stark realisation about the circuits he was expecting to be his strong point.When asked if a street circuit like St Petersburg made the perfect place to debut given his background, Rossi laughs, recalling his first laps of that opening weekend.You would think, and I went into it thinking those would be my strongest tracks ... they were not. A lot of that was down to the fact our car was the worst on street tracks, just with some of the issues we had throughout the season with ride control and bumps -- our car wasnt very good over those sorts of tracks and in that area.The street circuits Im used to are very well maintained and manicured... pretty much road courses, with walls. These are legit street tracks where the car is in the air a couple times a lap because its so bumpy. I remember the first time I went out I came on the radio and said I think something is broken because Im hitting so hard, like, I think Im doing damage. I came in, they looked and said no, everythings fine, thats just the way it is. So I was a bit like... wow, OK!Rossi admitted nothing in his junior career in Europe could have prepared him for the bumpiness and rough characteristics of IndyCars street venues.The street circuits were actually the hardest thing for me to adapt to this year just because in some of the corners, some of the braking zones, the car is literally in the air and you have to coax around that and have confidence in that, and deal with that.Rossi drove to 12th, but the race was about experience rather than the end result as he continued to tread water in the series.It was kind of an extended test session for us because I had no idea what I needed from the car to go quick. We were really struggling for pace and I think I was virtually one of the last car on the lead lap.... No, actually, I was the first car to go a lap down.It was pretty pitiful from a performance stand point, Rossi concludes, chuckling.From there, things would only get more challenging, as Rossi moved onto his first-ever oval race at the Phoenix International Raceway.A weekend of terror in PhoenixThere is no easy way to start an oval circuit. On his own switch to IndyCar in 1993, Nigel Mansell complained the circuits made him sick and dizzy in the cockpit. The flat-out races are not for the feint hearted -- theres no such thing as a run-off area on an oval, just banked tarmac and a concrete wall.For Rossi, the Phoenix race was his first experience of an oval track -- a 250-mile race spanning nearly two hours, under floodlights, with an average speed of 139.822 mp/h.Phoenix was a bit like oh my god, whats this going to be like? I had no idea where to begin.Phoenix was literally just a weekend of being terrified for two days, really... but then once I got through it I thought it wasnt too bad and actually started enjoying it a bit. But I never really maximised everything - it was a decent result for us but I never felt like I was getting the most out of the car.After finishing 14th at the Arizona race, progress for Rossi continued to be slow -- he finished 20th at Long Beach (a lap down, and second to last), before recording a 14th-place finish in Alabama, behind all three of his teammates. Heading into May and to the state of Indiana, Rossi was looking for a change in fortunes.The month of MayThe Grand Prix of Indianapolis, held on a modified layout of the configuration used in F1 during the 2000s, was the turning point in Rossis season. Having previously struggled with the pace of his car, Rossi claimed the fastest lap during a solid drive to tenth. The result, which saw him finish ahead of Munoz and Andretti, was just what Rossi had been waiting for.Indy GP was the first time I was stronger than all my teammates throughout a weekend. I think that was the moment I really made a step forward in terms of my overall pace. There were other weekends where, post-Indy GP, we were 16th, say, but it was the most we could get from the car because my teammates were 18th and 19th, type of thing.Prior to that I was kind of just following along and trying to find my feet so I think Indy GP was a turning point just from the perspective of feeling like a valuable member of Andretti Autosport.The confidence boost came a couple of weeks before the Indy 500 -- a significant time period, as it gave Rossi, whose previous oval experience was just that terrifying weekend at Phoenix, ample time to get

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