For as long as he can remember, Alexander Rossi has had a dream. Having moved to Europe at the age of 17 to chase that dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver, his life has been in fast-forward mode. This year, a win in the Indy 500 for Andretti Autosport/Bryan Herta Autosport has only further intensified what is set to be a career to remember for the Californian. He spoke to us exclusively about what lies ahead.
May 29, 2016 will be a turning point in Rossi’s career no matter what happens from here on in. Entering the Indy 500 as a rookie, Rossi gambled on fuel with 10 laps to go and finished the race on fumes, instantly becoming a National superstar. The gamble paid off.
“Personally, my life hasn’t changed that much. From a professional standpoint, it has opened a lot of doors and opportunities that I didn’t know existed that have come to be, and I am appreciative and thankful for that, and that will lead to the future and discussions for next year,” said Rossi.
Fruition of Dedication to his Craft
His win was vindication of seven years of hard work. Having come into the Indy 500 on the back of some solid form, Rossi left his mark on the world. His return to the America and the IndyCar Series was a step into the unexplored after his time with Manor Racing in Formula One.
“It’s no secret we went through a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of difficult times in Europe. Coming back to the US was a bit of a risk for me, I was getting into something new and unknown. What we accomplished in May made me feel like it was the right decision to make (in winning the Indy 500).
Humble as ever, Rossi remains thankful for the opportunities he has been given. “A lot of what I have done has to do with the people within the organization and the people I get to work with every day at the Speedway.”
Success is not clean-cut, and after his win in the Indy 500, the debate over where his future lies only intensified. Rossi, as level-headed as ever, remains unwavered. The experience has been an enjoyable one – what lies ahead has only come to fruition through hard work and dedication to his craft.
“I’ve enjoyed racing in the IndyCar series more than I thought I would, and I would have said that even prior to the month of May. From the first race, I felt like I was at home. With that being said, going back to Europe in the support role for Manor, like anything in life, there are a lot of things I miss. I have opportunities now that I didn’t have three months ago and they need to be looked at carefully and analyzed before making the best decision for my career and the competitiveness of my career.”
Winning has been prominent throughout his career, but it has not always been a straightforward road to success as it currently appears to be. Tough decisions have become an embodiment of Rossi’s make-up. From an early age, he knew what he wanted and has not let anything stand in his way of realizing his ambitions.
“My dream was Formula 1 from day one, so moving to Europe (at the age of 17) wasn’t a difficult decision. In order to achieve my dream, I had to be racing in Europe and had to be proving myself.”
The Andretti Guidance
Rossi is in unchartered waters as a full-time drive as an American in F1 is on the horizon, but making the right decision is critical for the advancement of his career. In the Andretti family, he finds solace and guidance in them, something he finds invaluable.
“Mario is fantastic to have around, he is an inspiration to everyone around the team. Even beyond Mario, my working relationship with Michael is so strong, what he went through was very similar to me. He was an American guy who went over to Europe to race in F1 and he came back, and he dealt with the pressures and the transition of coming back, and he is someone I’ve relied heavily on this year. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them.”
A question which has been batted around for a long time, the future successes among American F1 drivers may rest prominently on this 24-year-old’s broad shoulders. With the emergence of the Circuit of the Americas in recent years, Rossi is hopeful the sport can grow as a whole, encouraging more drivers from America to take the plunge.
“A lot of it has to do with there being so many options here, the commitment that it takes for someone to leave to go do something so foreign is the main reason. The sport has grown a lot in the last five years, and a lot of that has to do with Circuit of the Americas and how great of a city Austin is. The presence in America is definitely growing, nevertheless there is not enough young guys growing up watching F1 and wanting to be drivers.”
Similar to his own career path to date, Rossi has never followed the trend. As a young pretender dreaming of driving in F1, his hero isn’t exactly who you’d expect.
“Mika Hakkinen (1998 and 1999 F1 World Champion) was one of my heroes growing up. I always went for underdogs and he was racing at a time when Michael (Schumacher) and Ferrari were so dominant, so he was always the guy I was cheering for.”
The Future Is Bright
Nothing is a certainty in racing, but with Alexander Rossi, one thing that is also a given is this; expect to hear a hell of a lot more of this talented driver in the not-so distant future. An impressive 12th place finish last year for Manor Racing in the United Stated Grand Prix, Rossi will once again be back at the Austin venue in our Legends Club.
“Being able to represent America in the F1 environment is what I’m looking forward to most. Regardless of my role, I want to be an ambassador for the sport in America and grow it among the fans and share my story.”
Meet Rossi at Our Legends Club
Don’t miss your chance to meet Indy 500 winner and Formula One™ reserve driver Alexander Rossi in our Legends Club at the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™. Rossi, an IndyCar rookie who claimed the checkered flag at this year’s 100th Indy 500, will be on hand to meet and greet spectators at the Texas venue.
The Legends Club Hospitality experience, available only through the Circuit of the Americas Experiences program, is available for Saturday and/or Sunday access. Indulge in the luxury of a private dining area featuring gourmet food, premium bars, interactive experiences, racing and celebrity appearances. This trackside venue is the perfect place to entertain clients to reunite with their group, with the benefit of sanctuary from the elements.