Alexander Rossi's meandering path towards the top flight straightened a little following confirmation that he will be the Caterham F1 team's official reserve for 2013.
While it appears unlikely that the American will do much racing this season, he has been guaranteed several FP1 outings as part of his new deal, which Caterham insists is the next step in its development of a young talent who has been forced to ply his trade in GP3, GP2 and the World Series by Renault since 2009.
While the main focus of Caterham's announcement focused on Rossi's partner as official reserve, Ma Qing Hua, team principal Cyril Abiteboul underlined the importance of the role to the American.
"Alexander continues his development with us into 2013 and his promotion is a reflection of the investment we are making in him for the future," he confirmed, "As reserve drivers, both Alexander and Ma will attend every race with us and will be driving in a number of FP1 sessions to continue their development.
“One of the main challenges facing young drivers moving up to F1 is the sheer number of people they have to interact with compared to any other level of their motorsport career. They go from a small number in Formula Renault 3.5 to more than 15 in F1, across engineering, performance, reliability, engine, KERS, strategy, communications and marketing. The programme we have devised for Alexander and Ma will allow them to immerse themselves completely in the F1 environment throughout 2013, preparing them for the day when they take the next step up to the ultimate level."
Ma's signing will be seen as another indication that Caterham is keen to bolster its finances – following the installation of Giedo van der Garde as part of its race pairing – but Abiteboul is keen to see him develop by combining his F1 role with a year in the feeder series.
"I'm very pleased to welcome Ma into our team,” the Frenchman said, “Ma joins us with previous F1 experience from 2012, and will play a key role in helping our GP2 team achieve their 2013 goals.
“We are looking forward to helping him develop his talents, both in the F1 and GP2 environments, and giving Chinese fans a figurehead to support on track throughout the year ahead.”