x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Rossi hoping to have as much success as Valentino

Being in motorsport and having Rossi as your surname invites a bit of intrigue. But the American namesake of the MotoGP star is "cool" about the confusion.

Alexander Rossi will be racing at the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend.
Alexander Rossi will be racing at the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend.

The 18-year-old is often quizzed on racing family ties Ahmed Rizvi ABU DHABI // Being in motorsport and having Rossi as your surname invites a bit of intrigue. Wherever Alexander Rossi goes, the young American is flooded with queries about his relationship to the multiple MotoGp world champion Valentino. "I get asked if I am his cousin or brother, but no I am not," said the 18-year-old Californian. "It is quite a cool name to have though."

Rossi started in go-karts as a 10-year-old, and has gone on to win the Formula BMW world title and the International Formula Master championship. His successes have seen him secure a ride with Malaysia.QI-Meritus.Mahara in the GP2 Asia and ART Grand Prix in GP3, a move which, he believes, will take him a step closer to his dream of racing in Formula One. Rossi has already test-driven for BMW-Sauber and has pinned his hopes of bagging a regular drive with one of the teams on the Formula One grid on winning both the GP2 Asia and GP3 series. "Driving in F1 has been my goal ever since I first started and I think we are getting close," he said. "Going into GP Asia, I am looking to come out as champion. I have also signed with ART Grand Prix in GP3 and they are the best junior team in the world. So it is going to be a very good year for me. Let's see what it brings.

"My focus right now is GP2 Asia. We will see what happens in the future. Right now, I am just trying to take it one event at a time." Rossi, the first American to race in the GP2 Asia series, has moved to Italy in pursuit of his dream. He cites the timid nature of motor-sports in America as one of the reasons for his move. "I am not saying the talent is less, but the aggression is a lot less in America," he added. "In Europe, you are always fighting to win. In America, that is missing a bit. People are more timid, more cautious and more conservative. In Europe and Asia it is just all out - you go for it and you go for a win, and that's the best kind of racing."

Rossi made his debut in the GP2 Asia series at the Yas Island Circuit in November. He was driving for Ocean Racing Technology then and finished fourth and fifth in the two races of the first round, organised in conjunction with the finale to last year's F1 season. The series returns to Abu Dhabi for its second round on Friday with Rossi behind the wheels of the blazing red of the Meritus team, who are fourth in the championship with eight points, 15 behind leaders iSport International.

Rossi said of his chances: "It's a good car and I am confident in my abilities. With a little bit of luck and a very good qualifying and practice session, we can challenge for a win." @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae