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Haas F1 Team

Rossi reveals how Haas slammed the door on his F1 hopes

IndyCar racer Alexander Rossi has revealed how he was rejected for a seat at Haas in 2016, the same year he won the Indianapolis 500.

Former Manor Marussia driver turned IndyCar racer Alexander Rossi has revealed how he was bluntly snubbed by the Haas team for a seat in 2016.

Rossi, who acted as a test and reserve driver for Caterham between 2012 and 2014, joined the Manor team in a similar role in late 2014.

It took until late 2015 for the American driver to get his chance to race in a Grand Prix, making five starts between that year's Singapore and Brazilian Grands Prix.

With American team Haas joining F1 in 2016, Rossi revealed there had been some conversation between himself and the team management – talks that came to naught.

"Yeah, so there was some conversation," Rossi told the Beyond the Grid podcast.

"Then, in Monza of 2015, without mincing any words, [the message] from management [was], 'We are not interested in you. We don't think any Americans are qualified to race in Formula 1 at this point, and you're best to go off and go your own way'. And that was the conversation."

With no F1 opportunities arising, Rossi joined Andretti Herta Autosport in IndyCar. That year, he drove to victory at the prestigious Indianapolis 500 en route to 11th in the overall standings.

Rossi reveals different feel between Caterham and Manor

Rossi went on to explain how different the attitude was between the backmarker teams he held roles with, having swapped a long-term arrangement with Caterham to join Manor.

"Manor had a very different kind of feeling towards me," he said.

"I had switched from the Caterham programme as a test and reserve driver, whatever you want to call it, to Manor in the middle of 2014.

"My relationship with everyone there was phenomenal and I think that I was able to gain more respect there in eight to 12 months than I ever did at Caterham over a three-year period.

"It was just a great team and a team that ultimately I wanted to have the opportunity to race for."

Having not been given a chance by Haas, Rossi said he never had any hard feelings towards the squad.

"The Haas conversations were very short and to the point," he commented.

"It's just a part of the sport. If I had to say that I had a problem with something, it is purely that there are commitments and there are things that were said and done, and paths that ultimately didn't happen for one reason or another, and that's the disenchanting thing about it.

"But that's the way life goes. That's the way that it works. We see it even over here in the States in IndyCar, to a lesser scale obviously, but the budgets are much less so it all kind of makes sense.

"But, ultimately, we haven't seen an American in a Haas car in seven years. Forget me, they haven't put anyone in."

Could Rossi be tempted back to F1?

With F1's popularity in America exploding in recent years, Rossi welcomed the expansion of the sport in the public consciousness and admitted he felt his chance in F1 had come slightly too early to capitalise on that interest.

With no American driver in the sport, Rossi spoke about whether he could be tempted back to F1 with the right offer.

"Highly unlikely," he admitted.

"I have a lot to accomplish in IndyCar. The past two years have not been good in terms of just a timeline of goals and objectives that I have, so I need to make up a little bit for lost time from that standpoint, but I'm just very, very content in IndyCar.

"I love what it is. It's pure, pure racing. It's what I fell in love with as a kid growing up. There's very minimal politics.

"I still believe, without a doubt, F1 is the pinnacle. It's the best cars, the best tracks, the best teams, like there's no questioning that.

"I just love the competition and just the almost grassroots feel that IndyCar is."

But Rossi's own experiences in F1 haven't soured the sport for him, and he's hopeful of seeing more American representation in the short-term future.

"Ultimately, I'm an F1 fan. I grew up with F1, I stand by the fact that I think there needs to be American representation in the sport," he said.

"There is an American team in some fashion in the series, [and] there's obviously the interest from my boss, Michael Andretti.

"We see Oracle coming out with a huge partnership with Red Bull, so it is building and it is exciting to see, and it's only a matter of time before there's an American driver."

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