Alexander Rossi on how McLaren will open F1 door for U.S talent

The McLaren Racing logo. Barcelona, February 2022. Credit: Alamy
The McLaren Racing logo. Barcelona, February 2022. Credit: Alamy

Alexander Rossi believes McLaren’s close link to racing in the US will help “bridge the gap” between IndyCar and Formula 1.

Ever since Zak Brown took over, McLaren’s involvement with the American series has grown stronger every year. They joined the sport in 2020 in a partnership with Arrow before buying a majority stake in the team in August 2021.

Not only that, of all the F1 teams, McLaren have proved the most fluid when it comes to their competing in different series and crucially which driver competes in which category.

Over the past couple of seasons, we have seen IndyCar racers Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward be given a run out in a McLaren F1 car and highly-rated prospect Colton Herta tested the 2021 car in Portimão in July 2022.

All of this has been done with the view of getting these drivers more acquainted with life inside an F1 car so that, should they make the switch, they will feel better prepared.

Someone who is a fan of that is the most recent American driver in Formula 1, Alexander Rossi, who will lose that tag once Logan Sargeant debuts with Williams. Rossi said that McLaren’s work will help to “bridge the gap” between IndyCar and Formula 1.

“Because they have feet on the ground, if you will, in this championship, they will have a very direct understanding of people’s performance,” Rossi told RACER. “They’ll know the equipment that they’re in, they’ll know the race that they did something special, or they’ll know a qualifying session that they’ll be able to very easily analyse because they’re actively involved.

“It’s a lot harder when you have a Sauber or Alfa Romeo that’s looking at an IndyCar race and looking at a driver and not really knowing was that season that they had a result of incredible driver performance, or was it a result of they got really fortunate in a couple of situations that set them up for a championship contention? It’s harder to know when you’re not involved.

“So I do think that having McLaren and how closely connected the F1 team and IndyCar team is, it’ll definitely bridge that gap. And most likely give guys an opportunity, if it’s deserved, that doesn’t necessarily mean it comes from within the organisation.

“If there’s someone that’s doing something incredibly special, that’s beating all of us, it’s a small world and that news will travel rather quickly.”

Herta is a name that is increasingly linked with a future in Formula 1 and given Andretti’s desire to be on the grid and the 22-year-old’s current links with the team, it would be no surprise to see him lining up for them should they be successful in getting their own spot on the grid.

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