Alexander Rossi: “I can still fight Vandoorne”

He may be 65 points adrift of runaway championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne, but Alexander Rossi isn’t ready to give in on the GP2 title yet, as he tells Benjamin Vinel.

Having enjoyed a solid rookie GP2 campaign in 2013 with Caterham, Alexander Rossi endured a very tough time the following season, struggling to even get inside the top 10.

After five meetings, he had scored a mere ten points, and decided to leave the team when the Caterham Formula 1 team was sold - and his opportunities for 2015 looked bleak.

"2014 was a very, very challenging year for me," said the Californian.

"I didn't seemingly have any options in GP2 with competitive teams, and I didn't want to do another 2013 or 2014 where I was always fighting to be at the top.

"If I was going to do GP2 again, it was only going to be with a team that I knew could win."

In fact, Rossi had set his sights on IndyCar for this season before receiving a timely phone call from Racing Engineering.

"When there really appeared to be no options in GP2, I shifted my focus to IndyCar – I was really close to having a deal done in IndyCar," said the 23-year-old.

"Then I got a phone call from Racing Engineering and there was interest. Racing Engineering was a team that I always wanted to drive for since I tested with them in 2010.

"We had always, through the years, tried to put a deal together and it never worked out. They had a seat, and I was like 'You know what? I feel like I have something to prove in GP2. I know that I can do it with that team'.

"So I went for it, and I'm really happy I did. I'm very, very proud to be a part of that team; they're an amazing group of people. Up until Austria, we had been challenging for feature race wins at every weekend."

Team switch key to form

Indeed, Rossi is second in the championship and has scored in every race this season. The feature race is his forte, having been on the podium in every one this season bar Austria.

It might be surprising for some observers to see the American perform so consistently, having previously struggled to establish himself as a GP2 frontrunner on a regular basis.

"The team makes all the difference, to be honest," Rossi explained. "The team makes a massive difference in this championship.

"Beyond the actual setup of the car, having the confidence in the car – every track you go to, you go out of the pitlane, you know you're going to be fast.

"It's a massive amount of self-belief, knowing that the car is going to be good, so bam – you put the lap in, and there you go. That's really what it comes down to."

Vandoorne not impossible to catch

Despite a convincing start to the 2015 campaign, Rossi is a staggering 65 points adrift of a dominant Stoffel Vandoorne. Is the McLaren protege out of reach?

"No!" Rossi adamantly replied. "He has really put everything together, but I feel like we've been on par with him, really, for a lot of things.

"Okay, our outright pace hasn't quite been there, but I think our team is really strong in terms of strategy and decisions, and our race pace is really, really good.

"We haven't put it together. I think Monaco, we should have won that race without much issue. We had an issue in the pitstop – okay, it's part of the racing.

"Austria, we really struggled with braking issues throughout the weekend, but we fought through on Saturday and then had brake issues again."

Remembering Coletti's 2013 collapse

Rossi also brings up the surprising outcome to the 2013 season, when, after four rounds, Stefano Coletti was comfortably in the lead of the championship – but went on to suffer a dismal second half of the season in which he managed a mere 15 points.

The eventual champion was Fabio Leimer, who was 66 points behind after Monaco, but got better and better throughout the season.

"I don't think he's as dominant as he has been in the past, and he's not going to be every weekend," Rossi prophetically predicted before the first race at Silverstone – Vandoorne left the home of British motor racing with a best result of third.

"He has a big, big advantage at the moment, but this is GP2. We have seen it before with Stefano and Fabio, where everyone thought Stefano had the championship in the bag and Fabio came back to win.

"It's not the same situation with Stoffel obviously, he's looking very, very good right now. He's with a great team, he's in a good place, but I feel just as confident."

 

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Alexander Rossi
Teams Racing Engineering
Article type Interview