Alexander Rossi has returned to the Manor Racing team as reserve driver which he will dovetail with his maiden year in the IndyCar series.
The American driver had stepped into a Manor drive at the back end of 2015 but after an overhaul at the team he was dropped in favour of Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein and former GP2 rival Rio Haryanto.
After the news broke Rossi had missed out on a full-time F1 race seat he switched to IndyCar with Andretti Autosport. Rossi, who still holds a strong desire to return to F1, will attend 11 Grand Prixs with Manor as reserve driver starting at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi in May.
“I've invested most of my career in F1 and I'm not one to kick my heels and wait for things to happen, so this is my way of staying sharp and prepared,” Rossi explained. “It was disappointing to miss out on a race seat with Manor Racing this year; everyone knows I pushed and worked hard for it.
“As official reserve driver though, I have a very complimentary dual program at the highest level of motorsport. IndyCar Series is the premier category of open wheel racing in North America and extremely competitive. I also have the privilege of racing with a championship winning team, Andretti Autosport.
“I'm confident this experience will add to my role as a very important cog in an F1 team's wheel. My schedule this year is demanding, but no more than a full time F1 schedule. It's great to be back with a team I know and with whom I share a mutual respect and passion for the sport we love.”
Manor Racing director Dave Ryan has welcomed the American back to the team with open arms and believes competing in IndyCar in a full-time capacity as well as acting as a reserve driver in F1 will only benefit his career further down the line.
“We're very fortunate to have someone of Alex's calibre in the role,” Ryan said. “The fact that he's racing full time in the IndyCar Series this year was simply a challenge to be overcome; something we're pretty good at.
“We need a safe pair of hands for the role, which always carries the potential to have to step up to race, but also someone who can really contribute to the development of the car. For Alex, F1 is still unfinished business.
"He did a great job when he drove for us in five of last season's races and he's a highly rated and valuable part of our line-up. He does have one heck of a schedule ahead of him and it's a commitment that only the most disciplined of drivers would be able to manage. We're confident he's the man for the job.”