By Alan Baldwin
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS Belgium (Reuters) - American driver Alexander Rossi detected a silver lining in his disappointment on Friday after a Formula One race debut was snatched away at the last moment.
The 22-year-old Californian had been announced on Thursday as a replacement for Max Chilton at Marussia due to contractual issues with the Briton.
The Russian-licensed team then performed a U-turn and announced while Rossi was on track for first Friday practice that Chilton would race after all.
Rossi said he found out the bad news only after he stepped out of the car.
"I don’t think it was as hard as you would expect because it came so quickly and it went away in the same way," he told reporters.
"I don’t think it had fully sunk in quite yet that I was racing as it was a Friday morning session – it was nothing new to me obviously. But I was quite disappointed, I wanted to race this weekend, but that is the way it goes sometimes."
The reserve driver, who performed the same role at rivals Caterham until they changed ownership last month, has taken part in Friday practice before but has yet to take the final step and become the first American in seven years to race in F1.
He said, however, that he felt closer than ever to his goal.
"I think it is something that is coming. When it will come I don’t know. It might come out of the woodwork like it possibly did this weekend, it might be more a planned thing," he said.
"But I do feel very confident I will be in the grand prix race seat for a whole weekend very soon."
Rossi felt sure American audiences, revved up by race coverage on the NBC network, would understand the situation and become if anything more supportive.
"It not only gave Americans and the F1 fan base a bit of confidence in the fact that I can make it – but it gave me the confidence too," he said of his Spa experience.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)