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Alexander Rossi replaces Ma Qing Hua at Caterham

A restructuring at Caterham across its GP2 and F1 teams means that China's Ma Qing Hua appears to be without a seat, replaced in the feeder series by Alexander Rossi.
Caterham Racing have announced that American driver Alexander Rossi will take over the seat of the team's #15 car with immediate effect at this weekend's round at Bahrain, replacing Ma Qing Hua in the GP2 team for the remainder of the year.

"Alexander has all the attributes needed for a racing driver to be successful at the very highest levels of motorsport," said Caterham Racing Team Principal Mia Sharizman on Wednesday. "He is quick, he has very good racecraft and his technical insights will help us develop our car from the first laps he drives this weekend in Bahrain."

"I look forward to racing this weekend in Bahrain and getting started with the Caterham Racing GP2 team," responded Rossi, 21, from Auburn in California. "My goal is to win and Caterham Racing has shown in its first couple of years of GP2 that they can do this. My plan is to carry this trend forward."

Rossi raced with Caterham in the 2011 GP2 Final, a one-off non-championship exhibition event held in Abu Dhabi after the end of that year's regular season. He also competed for Ocean Racing Technology and Team Meritus in the 2009/10 GP2 Asia Series, which has since been folded into the main championship. More recently, Rossi has competed in Formula Renault 3.5 Series with ISR Racing, Fortec Motorsport and Arden Caterham.

However Bahrain will be Rossi's first full race appearance in the full feeder series, having most recently taken part in post-season testing at the end of 2012 with Caterham in Jerez and Barcelona. He'll be working alongside Sergio Canamasas who retains the wheel of the team's #14 car.

Ma Qing Hua made his own GP2 début at the opening round of the year in Malaysia last month. He qualified in 20th position but finished off the lead lap in his first feature race and was then forced to sit out the sprint race the following day because of gastroenteritis.

The 25-year-old from Shanghai has also been dropped as the team's F1 test and reserve driver by the F1 squad, after taking part last weekend in FP1 in his native China. He will be replaced at Bahrain by the team's former F1 regular driver Heikki Kovalainen, who was runner-up in the 2005 GP2 Series to that year's champion Nico Rosberg. (See separate story.)

Alongside Kovalainen, Rossi will also continue in his role as one of Caterham's F1 test and reserve drivers in 2013. The American is due to make his 2013 Grand Prix race weekend début in Friday Free Practice 1 at Montreal, Canada on June 7, the seventh round of this year's world championship.

"I know the team well and I'm fitter than I've ever been," said Rossi. "A GP2 programme complimenting my F1 duties for Caterham F1 Team is a good balance and I'm confident we'll do a great job together."

The team said that these moves are the result of a 'restructuring process' within the Caterham squad, and that Ma would remain part of the Caterham driver roster with the team working to find him a new race seat elsewhere, although it's not clear whether that will be in GP2 or an alternative championship.

"We're also working closely with Ma to secure an alternative plan for him in 2013," said Sharizman. "He performed very well in China for the F1 team and that has opened up a number of very interesting new opportunities for him and us and we'll announce a revised plan for him soon.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Alexander Rossi (USA, ART Grand Prix). [World Copyright: Drew Gibson/GP3 Media Service.]
Alexander Rossi (USA, Team AirAsia during the second day of testing at Jerez. [World Copyright: Alastair Staley/ GP2 Series Media Service.]
Ma Qing Hua (CHN, Caterham Racing) during the first day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Tuesday 5th March. (Photo Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service)
Ma Qing Hua (CHN, Caterham Racing) testing at Jerez, Spain. Tuesday 26th February 2013. (Photo Copyright: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Ma Qing Hua (CHN, Caterham Racing) on the first day of 2013 GP2 Series Testing at the Circuit de Jerez in Spain. Tuesday 26th February 2013. (Photo copyright: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Alexander Rossi (USA, Caterham Racing) during the firt day of post-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday October 30 2012. (Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Gustav Malja F2 2017
Nobuharu Matsushita - ART Grand Prix [credit: Formula 2]
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, F2, Formula 2, Bahrain
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Artem Markelov, F2, Bahrain
Artem Markelov
Norman Nato, Bahrain F2 2017, Formula 2
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, Formula 2, 2017
Nabil Jeffri, Team Trident [Credit: Team Trident]
Alexander Albon - ART Grand Prix [GP2 Series]

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IAN YOUNGMAN - Unregistered

April 17, 2013 12:57 PM

So the Chinaman was a political tool until the Chinese GP was gone and done with ! Rossi and Kovalinen are much better drivers What next - swapping drivers by nationality depending on the location of the GP to get local funding ?


April 17, 2013 1:32 PM

With only 1600 million people to choose from, you would have thought someone better would have emerged from China but at least F1 has realised now there is no future for the 1.6 local touring car champ. What next? Karun Chandok to be recruited just before the Indian GP and fired shortly after followed by the recruitment of Petrov shortly before the Russian GP in 2014? Or they might even get hold of that Gangnam Style singer and run him in FP1 for the Korean race. Can't see him doing any worse... Caterham are beginning to look like HRT did last year whereas Marussia are looking far more professional this year.

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