On Friday, for the first time since the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, an American driver took to the track in a contemporary Formula 1 car on a race weekend.
Alexander Rossi's outing was only for one session and the car was handed back to its regular driver Heikki Kovalainen in time for FP2, but it was a big step towards getting that all-important representation from the USA on the grid for the first time since Scott Speed was given the boot by Toro Rosso.
By his own admission, Rossi is still some way off a race seat in F1. His junior-formula CV, which includes the 2005 Formula BMW Americas title and victories in GP3, Formula Master and Formula Renault 3.5 (finishing a distant third in last year's standings), is good, but there is still more to prove. His tidy performance on Friday was a solid first step. And it's a vital one not just for Rossi himself, but in creating some interest in the US ahead of the country's return to the calendar later this year.
Certainly, Rossi, 20, looks the part. He is like most (but not all) young American drivers who try their luck in Europe, already very accomplished when interviewed, and those clean-cut looks will inevitably be vital if corporate America is to get behind him.
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Edd Straw is Editor-in-Chief of Autosport, overseeing both print and digital versions of the brand. Edd has worked for Autosport since joining as a junior reporter in 2002. He became Editor in November 2014, having previously worked as National Editor, News Editor and Grand Prix Editor.
Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, he joined Autosport shortly after graduating from university. He went on to cover a wide range of categories from club motorsport to the World Touring Car Championship and Le Mans to Formula 3 before switching to F1 full-time at the 2008 French Grand Prix. He continues to cover a range of international events in his position as Editor-in-Chief.
In his spare time, he was formerly a club racer whose abilities did not match his enthusiasm in a variety of categories.