Alexander Rossi says he is looking forward to sharing 'some very good news' about his motorsport future after adding IndyCar rookie of the year honours to a similar award he was guaranteed after winning the Indianapolis 500 at the first attempt.
The former F1 hopeful finished his debut Verizon IndyCar Series season eleventh overall, adding the uncontested honour of becoming Sunoco Rookie of the Year to his May accolades. In a spectacular final race of the season, set against the backdrop of Rossi's home state, the Californian driver claimed another 60 points, leaving him with a season tally of 430 overall at the end of a phenomenal season.
Although he narrowly missed out on the qualifying 'Fast Six' by just one-hundredth of a second, and would start his final race of the season in P8 as a result, Rossi entertained his 100+ guests at Sonoma by making a strong start, shooting the #98 Andretti Autosport car up the field to run P6 by the end of the first lap. Keeping clear of events on track, and with some brilliant manoeuvres, the former Marussia F1 pilot quickly settled into a race rhythm and remained at the sharp end with a podium result at his home race within reach.
Racing in fourth, he began to close the gap to the top three as the final third of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma played out and, as the final few laps of his battle with fellow American – and Andretti team-mate – Ryan Hunter-Reay unfolded, looked set for a top finish. However, as the pair approached the final few corners on the final lap, Rossi's #98 ran out of fuel – just as it had at Indianapolis - and he had to relinquish the position to Hunter-Reay, finishing in fifth overall.
"The race was really strong until the last corner,” Rossi lamented, “We hit our fuel numbers the whole race, so it must have been a glitch in calibration numbers feeding back to the pit wall. Out of turn eleven on the final stretch, the car fell flat on its face and allowed Ryan by me. It's a shame because I had kept him behind me the whole race. It's weird how this sport works sometimes; winning the biggest race in history earlier in the year the same way….”
Although he has yet to confirm his plans for 2017, Rossi is hopeful that his performance this year will not only have opened eyes to his ability elsewhere, but also cemented his position as an IndyCar driver of note going forward.
“It was a fantastic year for my first season in Indycar,” he concluded, “Huge credit to the team for what we accomplished from St Pete onward, developing our car. Andretti is a top notch team and it's been a real pleasure to work with the whole team and Honda this year. I want to thank everyone involved for the opportunity they have given me in 2016 and I look forward to sharing some very good news about my future soon."