TOUGH DEBUT FOR ROOKIE: Alexander Rossi speaks to team mechanics. The rookie crashed during the first practice session ahead of the 2015 Singapore GP. Image: AP / Mark Baker)
Singapore - US rookie Alexander Rossi made an inauspicious start to his Formula 1 career when he crashed during Friday's (Spet 18) opening practice for this weekend's 2015 Singapore Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old Californian, poised to become the first American to start a F1 race since 2007, lost control of his Marussia Manor near the end of the 90-minute session and slammed into a wall.
His right front wheel was knocked sideways but Rossi was uninjured by the impact. The stewards called a red flag, signalling the end of the session, which only had a few minutes to run.
Rossi had completed 18 laps during the session but had the slowest time overall, lapping the Marina Bay street circuit almost six seconds behind the early pacesetter, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg.
Marussia is currently last in the standings, without a point this season, so Rossi does not have any high expectations for Singapore.
Speaking to reporters shortly after his arrival in Southeast Asia, he said his main was to beat his team mate, Britain's Will Stevens.
Rossi was a fraction faster than Stevens for most of the session but the Englishmen edged ahead after the sun went down and the lights were turned on for the twilight session.
Rossi has endured a frustrating wait for his first race. He nearly raced for Marussia in Belgium in 2014 when the team threatened to drop Max Chilton in a contractual dispute.
He was behind the wheel for first practice but didn't get to race after the team resolved their row with Chilton.
The last American to drive in F1 was Scott Speed, who competed for Toro Rosso in 2006 and 2007.
Rossi has chosen number 53 for his debut, the same number carried by Disney's 'Herbie the Love Bug'.
2015 Singapore GP - 1st free practice results
1. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min47.995
2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min48.314
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1min48.331
4. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 1min48.494
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min48.785
6. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 1min49.380
7. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min49.466
8. Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India - Mercedes 1min49.854
9. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min50.019
10. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus - Mercedes 1min50.068
11. Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 1min50.123
12. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - Mercedes 1min50.125
13. Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber - Ferrari 1min50.158
14. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Mercedes 1min50.341
15. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min50.455
16. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber - Ferrari 1min50.883
17. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1min51.035
18. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) RedBull - Renault 1min51.188
19. Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia - Ferrari 1min53.903
20. Alexander Rossi (U.S.) Marussia - Ferrari 1min53.918
As it happened: 2015 Singapore GP - First practice
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Singapore GP weekend