Alexander Rossi had more than his share of problems in the heat races at Formula BMW World Final in Mexico City, but when it counted, the young American was unstoppable, taking the coveted victory in the final race by 0.655 seconds over Michael Christensen.
"This is the sweetest victory of them all," said the Rossi. "I coped well with the track from the first practice session and knew there would be a chance to win. However, then we experienced some ups and downs. The heats didn't go as I had hoped, so I had to start from fourth on the grid."
Rossi's rear wing was found to be out of spec after qualifying, dropping him from second to sixth, but he fought back to second- and fourth-place finishes in the first two heats. In the third heat, though, gearbox problems dropped him down to eighth, giving him a fourth-place starting position for the final, behind rivals Esteban Gutierrez, Christensen and Daniel Juncadella.
It looked like a Danish affair at the start, with Christensen taking the lead into the first corner from his teammate Gutierrez. Rossi didn't look to be in contention at the time, dropping back to fifth at the start, behind Ollie Milroy and Juncadella. However, the 17-year old college student was not ready to concede the race quite yet.
"My start was horrible, and I lost a position," Rossi recounted. "But I remained positive and improved lap by lap. Once I was in the lead it was all about making no mistakes."
In the lead? That took some work, but by lap six, he had already made his way past Juncadella and Milroy, putting himself in a podium position, and he then set his sights on the local hero. Gutierrez, in spite of the latter having the support of the fans on his home track, could not defend for long against Rossi's attacks, and on lap 10, he had to concede second place to the American.
It was then down to Christensen and Rossi, and the American was determined to come home with a World Final victory to add on to his seven race wins during his Formula BMW Americas championship season. It took three laps, but Rossi made his move stick, keeping the Dane behind him to the chequered flag.
"I had a good final race, and I'm happy to be on the podium. In the end, my performance wasn't quite good enough to make it to the top step," Christensen conceded. "Alex was simply too strong today."
Rossi, the first driver from the United States to win a Formula BMW championship in the five years of Formula BMW USA and Formula BMW Americas history, is now also the first American winner of the World Final.
And that earns him not only the honour of the win, but also something else highly desirable: a test in the BMW Sauber Formula One car. This weekend it was last year's winner, Philipp Eng, at the wheel of the F1 car, to the envy of the Formula BMW paddock. Next year, Rossi will set another first, becoming the first American to turn a wheel in anger on a BMW Sauber F1 car.
"The very thought of driving a Formula One car makes me speechless," Rossi smiled. "Since I first saw Formula One, I have wanted to drive (one). Now this dream becomes reality. When I watched Philipp Eng driving here in Mexico, I envied him a lot. It gave me tremendous motivation to follow in his footsteps. And that's exactly what I did."