Marussia

Indycar rumour mill round-up

This week has already seen some interesting rumours develop relating to potential driver moves concerning the Indycar series. The American open wheel championship has become increasingly popular with drivers over the past few years, with plenty of European drivers now turning their back on the exorbitant costs needed to simply get close to Formula One, yet many of these racers spurn the well supported World Endurance Championship as they want to remain racing single seaters. This leaves the Indycar series as the only alternative prominent single seater championship outside of F1 or the junior categories such as GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5 series.

After Carlin announced earlier this week that they would be joining the rejuvenated Indy Lights series next year, with a view to moving up to the Indycar series in the future, this shows the increasingly appeal of Indycar to the European racing community. Firstly whilst it’s not a particularly new rumour it does seem Daniel Abt is looking to move away from GP2 for next year and join the Indycar grid for next year.

He tested for the Andretti Autosport team in late October at Barber Motorsports Park and Abt was quoted as saying about the test “I had a fantastic day with plenty of fun and learned a lot. I didn’t do this test out of boredom, but would like to explore options for next year. The test was a cool experience that definitely whets my appetite for more.” Whilst Abt has current commitments with the new Formula E series, it does appear Abt is keen to change his direction and leave GP2 for the Indycar series next year.

Another former GP2 rival could be joining him stateside, as the American Conor Daly has switched his attentions back to his homeland after running into budget problems during his second year of GP2 this year. Whilst this once again isn’t a revelation it does show how the series is attracting top line American talent not just European drivers for the series, and Daly would need less acclimatization as he finished the 2013 Indy 500 in 22nd position in a one-off deal for the iconic race.

Another top line American driver that is looking to join the Indycar grid in 2015 is Alex Rossi, formerly the Caterham and Marussia reserve driver seems to have given up on F1 after coming very close this year to making his race debut with the Marussia team. Rossi was set to make his debut at this years Belgian Grand Prix in place of Max Chilton, however Chilton was re-installed at the last minute. Rossi has now switched his attention to the Indycar series for next year. Rossi has spent the last few months talking with prospective teams, and hopes to announce a deal with a competitive team in the next few weeks and into the new year.

British racer and GP3 runner up Dean Stoneman is another driver looking to switch from Europe to the American open wheel racing scene, and hopes to secure himself a Indycar test this winter in preparation for a move stateside. Whilst Stoneman himself feels ready to join the Indycar series, he has also stated if needed to he will join the feeder Indy Lights series first to gain experience of the american road circuits and the ovals. Whilst nothing is concrete at the moment, it seems plenty of Indycar and Indy Lights teams will be interested in him joining them next year. Could a potential link up with British team Carlin work out for Stoneman next year?

The final and most exciting potential rumour surrounding the Indycar series recently has been the news former Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean Eric Vergne is very interested in joining the series, as his next move after being replaced in F1 for next year. The Frenchman has stated he very much is looking at the Indycar series and it seems likely he will have a string of offers to join the series next year. Whilst Vergne may take a season or two to learn the American ovals and road courses, once he gets comfortable Vergne would be a formidable competitor for anyone in the series. Nothing is planned at the moment in terms of tests or significant talks with teams, although it seems likely Vergne’s next stage of his career would be stateside.

Max Chilton rumblings leave Alex Rossi in the cold

After the announcement last night that Marussia driver Max Chilton would move aside at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, allegedly for non-payment from Chilton’s sponsors, therefore allowing Alex Rossi to make his Grand Prix debut. Whilst this seemed like a dream for Rossi, who only recently joined Marussia after leaving Caterham.

Sadly for Rossi, the reality quickly became something much different because as swiftly as he was announced it subsequently became common knowledge that Chilton would in fact be driving for Marussia this weekend after all. For the seemingly happy go-lucky American Alex Rossi this must be a huge blow to gear yourself up for a Grand Prix debut, only to have it snatched away so soon.

This bizarre soap opera began last night when it was announced by the team that Chilton was being replaced for this weekend because of “contractual issues.” The waters were muddied further in the aftermath of this as Chilton himself released a press statement which said that he was “stepping aside” to allow the team to sell his seat for much needed financial benefit. This seemed strange that the team and the driver were giving different explanations for Chilton stepping aside.

It seems that if the rumours are true this was the wake up call for Chilton to start leaning on his sponsors to pay up the promised funds, as whilst Free Practice 1 was taking place this morning, whilst Rossi was probably on track, it was announced by the team that Chilton would indeed by racing this weekend after all leaving Rossi with only the Free Practice 1 session for the weekend.

Whilst this will hugely disappointing for Rossi he can take some solace from the experience gained for the future, especially as this was his first time driving the Marussia MR03-Ferrari car. It seems likely Rossi will get more chances during Free practice sessions this year, most likely at his home race in Austin. With nothing confirmed in terms of driver line-up for next year an impressive showing from Rossi in any further running for the team could persuade them to take him on for the 2015 season.

Whilst it’s hard to read too much into Rossi’s display this morning as it was his first time in the car, therefore it was no surprise that he was 1.5 seconds behind highly rated team mate Jules Bianchi. This seems a good starting point for Rossi, let’s hope he gets a proper chance at F1 from here.