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Rossi to replace van der Garde in Bahrain practice

Mar 28, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Qualifying Getty Images

Caterham reserve driver Alexander Rossi will get another taste of Grand Prix weekend running at the Bahrain Grand Prix, where he will replace Giedo van der Garde during Free Practice 1.

Rossi became the first American driver to compete during a race weekend since Scott Speed in 2007 at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, and having been retained by the team for 2013, he will get another chance to impress in Bahrain.

It was also confirmed today that Rossi’s fellow test driver, Ma Qing Hua, will deputize for Charles Pic at the Chinese Grand Prix, which will undoubtedly act as an extra draw for Hua’s home crowd in Shanghai.

Although van der Garde was not pleased to be losing the practice session in Bahrain, he told GP Update that he was contractually obliged to make way for Rossi.

“I would have rather be driving these sessions myself and get as much track time as possible,” van der Garde said. “But this is in the contract and I’m sure it will be good experience for these guys.”

van der Garde also reflected on his own test driver duties for Caterham, believing his Friday running went a long way to securing him the seat with the team.

“I had that same role with the team last year and because of the work I did then, I earned this race seat.”

This will present a good opportunity for both Hua and Rossi, and as the American F1 market continues to grow, the latter may become a hotly sought-after driver should a seat become vacant.

With both Pic and van der Garde making way so early in the season, it will only fuel rumors that Caterham could be set to drop one of their drivers. Heikki Kovalainen, who drove for the team between 2010 and 2012, was a guest of the team in Malaysia, and sources in the paddock believe that the team could bring the Finnish driver back following a lackluster start to the 2013 season.

  1. apexassassin - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    Another great article, Luke!

    Who doesn’t want Rossi to replace VDG? Though I suspect neither Rossi nor Kovi could do much with the car Caterham has brought to the opening rounds.

    • Luke Smith - Mar 29, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      Thanks apexassassin, greatly appreciated.

      Yes, I think there is a big call for Rossi to get the nod. Caterham do appear to be struggling, but they have shown spits of pace (Pic more so than van der Garde). The rumors suggest that it could be Pic who gets the chop, possibly down to finance, but we will see. If Rossi’s people can get the money together, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him race in Austin at the end of the season. With two races next season, F1 really needs a US driver for American fans to get behind.

      • apexassassin - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:23 PM

        I’m not sure Rossi or Daly (or Rosenzweig) are super stars, but both are very dedicated. And Rossi was often the best placed rookie whereever he drove, even if he didn’t win the overall championships.

        Moving abroad to race is huge. I couldn’t imagine what doing a season in GP2 Asia would be like for your standard American boy racer. And like I stated several times elsewhere, lol, a GP2 Americas series would be most welcome!!! Americas, not America 😉

  2. techmeister1 - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:00 AM

    Driving for Caterham is a good means to end you career as no matter how good you are you’re going to look bad in their cars.

    BTW, did anyone else notice the “monkey suits’ that NBC Sports requires Diffy/Varsha, Hobbs and Matchett to wear to call the F1 races? It’s really inappropriate and dumb looking to be wearing a dress suit to announce F1 races, IMO. This is motorsport fercchrissake not a funeral. Maybe NBC Sports can’t afford some nice shirts like SPEED has?

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