Rossi to make F1 debut in place of Chilton
By Alan Baldwin
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS Belgium (Reuters) - American Alexander Rossi will make his Formula One debut for Marussia at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix after the hard-up team sidelined Britain's Max Chilton for unspecified contractual reasons.
Rossi, 22, will race alongside Frenchman Jules Bianchi and become the first U.S. driver to start a grand prix since Scott Speed's last race with Toro Rosso in 2006.
The Californian joined British-based Marussia, who are ninth in the 11-team championship, as reserve driver last month after carrying out the role at tail-enders Caterham.
"It’s a very big moment for me and there’s a lot to prepare in a short space of time, but on the other hand I have felt ready for this for quite a while now," he said.
"It is also exciting to be given this opportunity at such a fantastic and historical circuit as Spa-Francorchamps. I can’t wait to drive the MR03 from tomorrow and I hope to reward the team with a solid race weekend."
Marussia indicated the decision to switch drivers had not been a sudden one, even if it took the paddock by surprise as the sport regrouped after a summer break.
"Naturally we hope to resume normal service with respect to our established race driver line-up as soon as possible, but for now we wish Alexander well for the weekend ahead and we look forward to seeing him in action," said principal John Booth.
A statement issued on behalf of Chilton, who was at the Spa circuit on Thursday but did not carry out his scheduled media activities, suggested the 23-year-old Briton had stepped aside of his own volition. Continued...