Alexander Rossi will make his GP2 Asia series debut this weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The 18-year-old Californian will drive for the Ocean Racing Technology (ORT) team, owned by former F1 and Champ Car driver Tiago Monteiro.
Rossi, who won International Formula Master's “Rookie Champion” title this year with three wins, completed four days of GP2 testing in October, two in Abu Dhabi last week and two earlier this month at the GP2 Main series test in Jerez, Spain as he prepares for his BMW Sauber F1 test, December 1-3, as a reward for winning the Formula BMW World Final last year. He reckons his season in IFM served him well in preparing for the 550hp Dallara-Renault GP2 car.
“The Formula Master was the proper training ground for GP2,” he says. “The biggest difference between the two cars is the brakes. With the carbon brakes in GP2 you have to hit the pedal harder when you arrive at your braking point. Now that I found the limit, we are adjusting the car to my driving style. There is more power and speed, but so is the grip, the transition from an IFM car has not been that much. The big difference will be the heavy fuel loads at the race starts, pit strategy and tire wear. I am looking forward to the inaugural event at Abu Dhabi where I will have the opportunity to put everything together.”
Rossi was impressed by the new $400m Yas Marina complex.
“The circuit and infrastructure surrounding it is truly one of a kind,” he says. “For a driver it is very similar to a street course. The opening section is quite quick; then it tightens up towards the end of the lap, like a street circuit. They seem to have thought of everything, even the tunnel exiting pitlane!”
Unlike most F1 circuits, Yas Marina has relatively little run-off thanks to the energy-absorbing Tecpro Barriers that line the racetrack. At one point on the 3.45-mile track the run-off area even extends underneath a grandstand; in another place the track passes under the circuit's 5-star hotel and the pit garages are air conditioned to improve working conditions for the mechanics.