Alexander Rossi will replace Manor Marussia driver Roberto Merhi in five of the remaining seven races of the 2015 season, the team confirmed on Wednesday.
The American driver has previously been linked with Manor after holding a reserve role in the latter half of the 2014 season, when the team was known only as Marussia, which saw him take part in Friday’s practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix.
However he will make the step up to a race seat for the team, beginning with this weekend’s Singapore GP, marking his debut as the first American since Scott Speed in 2007 to race in F1.
He will race alongside Will Stevens at the Singapore, Japan, United States, Mexican and Brazilian rounds of the championship, whilst Merhi will take over for the Russian and Abu Dhabi races.
“I’m very thankful to race for the Manor Marussia F1 Team and for their continued belief in me,” he said. “I’ve been prepared for this opportunity for quite a while now. Many will know from 2014 that the team and I already have a strong relationship and there’s a bit of unfinished business for me here.
“This is a small F1 team that has been through so much. They exemplify passion and true strength of character, and their comeback this season is extraordinary. I’m honored to be part of this legacy and their continued growth and success.
“I want to thank the management at Manor Marussia F1 Team and my team in the GP2 Series, Racing Engineering, for supporting both my F1 duties and the completion of an already strong GP2 campaign. Since Monza, my return to F1 came together rather quickly and seamlessly. The collective support of both Manor and Racing Engineering was instrumental in making this opportunity possible.
“Singapore is a circuit I really enjoy and the timing of my debut could not be more perfect. There’s a lot of work ahead and I’m looking forward to a busy end to the 2015 season.”
Team principal John Booth added: “We are delighted to sign Alexander as Race Driver. He is widely-regarded as a driver who is on the cusp of an exciting F1 career and his current form in the GP2 Series has done much to reinforce his clear potential. With that in mind, we are pleased to support his current GP2 commitments while he continues to battle for the championship win, therefore he will race in five of the seven remaining Grands Prix this season, with Roberto contesting Russia and Abu Dhabi for us.
“While Roberto is obviously disappointed, he understands that this decision is in the long-term interests of the team and we thank him for his professionalism. No decision has been made regarding our 2016 driver line-up and we will continue to evaluate our options during the remainder of the season.”