NB: This piece was published before Chilton was reinstated at Marussia on Friday morning

Alexander Rossi is exactly the sort of driver Formula One needs right now.

The young American racer ticks all of the boxes. He is good-looking, and has already starred in a couple of modelling campaigns. Those good looks make him infinitely marketable, especially to a US audience typically less interested in Formula One than they are in more homegrown types of motor-racing.

Rossi is also intelligent, genial, and well-spoken. These attributes may be useless on track, but when it comes to selling Formula One to a potential new fanbase, being able to charm journalists both male and female with a succession of print-ready quotes never does any harm. Just ask those racers who have left the paddock in recent years partially thanks to their inability to build much in the way of a relationship with the press...

Perhaps one of Rossi's great strengths in marketing terms is his clean-cut image, something that resonates well with the American audience and something that is vital for any young athlete hoping to secure backing from the US of A's roster of international blue-chip firms.

But the combination of racing skill, a genial personality, and photogenic good looks increases his appeal from a sponsorship perspective while also opening up the possibility of a new target audience - the long ignored tweenage girls who come with significant purchasing power and love good-looking heroes who come with a frisson of danger.
Whatever the circumstances of Max Chilton's brief holiday from the Marussia race seat - Crash.net has been informed that a temporary hiatus in the payment schedule from the Briton's raft of investors was a crucial factor - it is in the interests of the wider sport that Rossi acquit himself well this weekend.

While the sport has a loyal and growing fanbase, we are not successful enough in one of the world's most important markets. We have the Austin race, but when F1 makes it into the general American newsmedia it is either to report on the recently ended trials and tribulations of Bernie Ecclestone, or to ask just what is happening with the dead in the water grand prix in New Jersey.

A good debut weekend for Rossi will focus some of the US media attention in our direction. After the Ward-Stewart tragedy, American motorsport outlets are looking for a good news story to cover. And what could be better than the successful grand prix debut of the first American to take part in an F1 race since Scott Speed retired during the 2007 European Grand Prix and was soon replaced?

All countries like to cheer on their own athletes. It's what makes civilians go mad for the World Cup and the Olympic Games, even if their level of interest in sport usually hovers around zero. But the Americans are particularly good at positive patriotism, at getting behind their own man.

With a racer of their very own - and the 2016 arrival of Haas as an American F1 team - US interest in Formula One should increase, and with it the interest of those sponsors and brands keen to further entrench themselves in the US market. Equally, with American eyeballs on the increase, US brands will see F1 as an appealing marketing prospect for selling their product overseas while also remaining exposed to their core customer base in the land of the free.

By Kate Walker

Kate Walker is a senior F1 writer for Crash.net. A member of the F1 travelling circus since 2010, she keeps an eye on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that makes Formula One a political melodrama.