Breaking news: An American in Barcelona

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American Alexander Rossi will be the first American in nearly five years to get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car at an official event as he jumps into a Caterham during practice. He’ll be sitting in for Heikki Kovalainen.

Too bad the French Grand Prix isn’t back on already. The headline would have been better (with some slack).

“I am looking forward to getting back into the F1 car in Spain and I want to thank the team for the chance to run in FP1 in Barcelona,” said the 20-year-old Californian. “I have a clear goal for the session – make sure I run to the plan set by the engineers, not make any mistakes and learn as much as I can over the whole weekend.

“I know how much I will be able to take from my time with the team back to my Formula Renault 3.5 commitments and I know the team will do everything they can to help me maximise my performance on Friday.”

So far the team doesn’t seem to be making a big deal out of this, but the official F1 site is. The team does have a link to a video of Rossi’s being fitting for his run, so I guess that’s a nod, at least, to the news.

The team’s technical director, Mark Smith, had this to say: “We will also be giving our Test Driver Alexander Rossi his first FP1 run with us in Barcelona and we are all looking forward to giving him the chance to work with us at a full race weekend. He did a good job in Abu Dhabi when we ran him in the young driver test in 2011 and I am sure he will perform well for us on Friday in Spain.”

Speed TV and COTA both should do what they can to promote this and try to build F1’s fan base here in America. And Caterham had better — had better! — give Rossi a practice run during the United States Grand Prix, too.

So, excited?

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