• GP Week

'It would be great to have an American team'

Adam Hay-Nicholls August 20, 2010
Alexander Rossi has F1 ambitions © Sutton Images

How are you settling into GP3 - is it more difficult than you expected?
Coming from GP2 Asia I was expecting a slower car, but it's taking a bit longer [to get used to the car] than we hoped, for various different reasons. In testing at Paul Ricard we were on the pace immediately, and then we kinda lost a bit with development, trying to adapt the car to my driving style. To make improvements on a race weekend is quite difficult. We're still missing a bit in qualifying.

Why did you decide to make the move from GP2 Asia to GP3, not straight to the GP2 main series?
We planned to move up to the main series but because of budgetary restrictions we just weren't able to do it. I don't regret the decision we made. This is where we are and this is where we need to win. We're doing everything we can to maximize this opportunity.

Have you raced against many of the GP3 field before, in other formulae?
Only Esteban [Gutierrez], my team-mate. We raced against each other in 2007 and 2008, and we had a BMW Sauber test together in 2009, so we know each other quite well and push each other hard on the track. And I did Formula BMW in the States with Daniel Morad too.

ART is a terrific team. Is there a sense of disappointment within the team that the team pulled out of the running for a Formula One entry next year?
The way the teams are now in GP2 and GP3, they're very much separated and no-one in GP3 knew what was going on regards Formula One. That was kept very much between Nicolas [Todt] and Frederic [Vasseur]. It would have been great, because they would have been racing in every category between F3 and F1. The team has a ladder system in terms of promotion, which works very well. If you do a good job in one series, you're going to move up. It would be fantastic if the team could carry that all the way through to F1.

For an American, it's quite a commitment to come and race in Europe. As an American, is it difficult to be accepted at this level?
Too be honest I haven't really had any issues with that. I don't know if that's because I'm naïve to it or not. I have great relationships with all the drivers, teams and mechanics.

You grew up watching Formula One rather than NASCAR, did you?
Yeah, absolutely. I was really involved in CART back in the States, and it was a shame to see that and Indy Car split, because to my mind it ruined open-wheel racing in America. When that happened my attention immediately shifted to Formula One, and I've never looked back from that since.

Your dad, Pieter, is your manager. What's his background?
He's actually a landscape contractor. He's learning as I am, but I have to say he's done a fantastic job for me so far. It's very cool that we're able to do this together.

Is being an American advantageous when it comes to generating sponsorship?
Yeah I think so, because it's something different. It's something we can use to leverage American companies and American motor sport fans. It's a rarity to have an American in Formula One and any kind of rarity draws attention, and that's what sponsors are looking for.

Had USF1 materialized you would have been the third driver. Was the team's failure to make the grid a crushing blow to you?
I was obviously looking forward to being part of the F1 world, but it wasn't devastating. There are many other options out there. But I think it hurt Formula One's view of America and vice versa. It would be great to have an American team. I hope there will be one in the not too distant. A race in Austin is great news, but without an American team or driver I don't think there will be a big pull.

Have you been speaking to Bernie Ecclestone or Tavo Hellmund about 2012?
Yes, there have been a few conversations and things are looking good, but it's a question of getting results and that's something about which I'm very hard on myself. We need to keep pushing.