James Rossiter is a British racing driver who competes in Japan since 2013, being the regular contestant in the Super GT Series and Super Formula (until 2016). His season-best result was third place in the Super GT classification in 2013 and 2014.
Earlier in a career, he participated in different single-seater championships (Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 3.5, Formula 3) but also served as Formula One test driver for several teams (Honda, Super Aguri, Force India).
Starting a career in the Formula Renault
Born in Oxfordshire, England, Rossiter started a racing career at the age 14 in karting competitions. He tested Formula Palmer Audi in 2001 and then entered his first Formula competition in 2002.
Third place in Formula 3 secured him a Formula One tests
In 2004, Rossiter progressed with Fortec to the British Formula 3 Championship, again finishing third in the championship and taking the Rookie of the Year award. He won three championship races, ending a season behind Nelson Piquet Jr and Adam Carroll. Good results also earned him the BRDC John Cooper Award and being selected as the winner of the BAR Honda F1 team's young driver search.
In 2005, Rossiter moved to the Formula 3 Euro Series with the Signature-Plus team. He won one race, at wet Hockenheimring, to finish seventh in the points, one place behind his teammate Loic Duval. Rossiter was added to the roster of the BAR Honda team development drivers.
No racing in 2007, just testing for Super Aguri F1 team
In 2006, Rossiter was combining Formula One testing duties for Lucky Strike Honda Racing F1 Team with a participation in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for Pons Racing. Without wins, scoring just one podium, he finished 14th in the final standings.
In 2007, Rossiter was out of racing, being retained as one of Honda's test and development drivers. For most of the year, he was working with Super Aguri F1 team, which was the second F1 team with Honda engines besides factory team.
2008 – testing Honda, debuting in sports car racing
Honda retained Rossiter for one more season, so he spent the most of 2008 without racing. He was Honda's primary test and development driver, mainly working with the team in Japan.
Honda's connections led to his sports car racing debut im summer 2008. He joined Franck Montagny in three races of the American Le Mans Series, driving the #26 Acura ARX-01b for Andretti Green Racing. They even won the race at Detroit's Belle Isle Street Circuit.
Two seasons without racing
After leaving Honda at the end of 2008, Rossiter spent 2009 trying to secure a Formula One drive with one of the new teams entering the 2010 season. He signed for US F1 Team which has granted entry to the season, but the team withdrew in March.
After that, Rossiter was expected to enter the IndyCar Series in 2010, driving for KV Racing Technology, after testing for the team at Barber Motorsports Park. However, the team signed another driver, leaving Rossiter without a drive for the year. He then joined Sky Sports as a commentator for their coverage of IndyCar.
Rossiter joined Lotus in 2011
Being without professional racing, Rossiter occasionally participated in the Evora Cup with Lotus. He then became test and development driver for Lotus, working on the T-125 track day car.
In May 2011, he returned to racing with Lotus Jetalliance team, driving the Lotus Evora at 1000 km of Spa, the part of the Le Mans Series. His co-drivers were Jonathan Hirschi and Johnny Mowlem. The same trio participated next month at 24 Hours of Le Mans. In his Le Mand debut, Rossiter finished 22nd overall and 7th in the GTE Pro class.
2012 - FIA WEC season with Lotus, test drives for Force India
In 2012, Rossiter stayed with Lotus, participating in six races of the revived FIA World Endurance Championship but not at Le Mans 24h. He was driving Lola B12/80 in the LMP2 class, sharing a car with five different drivers through the season.
Midway through the 2012 Formula One season, he was signed by Force India as a test and simulator driver. He was also driving the VJM06 at the first pre-season test in Jerez in 2013. It was his last F1 experience. After that, Rossiter moved his career to Japan.
2013 – successful start of Japanese career
In 2013, Rossiter joined Lexus Team Petronas Tom's to drive the #36 Lexus SC430 in the Japanese Super GT Series, with Kazuki Nakajima as a co-driver. They won the second race of the season at Fuji Speedway and added one more with at Autopolis in the seventh round. They finished third in the final standings.
During 2013, Rossiter also joined Petronas Team Tom's in three rounds of the Super Formula Championship but also re-joined Lotus in four FIA WEC rounds, including 24h Le Mans. In his second Le Mans attempt, Rossiter was sharing the #31 Lotus T128 with Christophe Bouchut and Kevin Weeda. They retired after just 17 laps.
2014 - third place again in the Super GT Series
For the 2014 Super GT season, Rossiter received new Lexus RC F. He was sharing a car with Kazuki Nakajima (six races) and Ryo Hirakawa (two races). With two wins, at Suzuka Circuit's 1000km race and Chang International Circuit, Rossiter was again third in the final standings.
He expanded his commitments in the Super Formula to full season participation, driving the #3 Toyota for Kondo Racing. He was on a podium in the season opener at Suzuka, finishing sixth in the final championship classification.
One more Suzuka 1000 victory in 2015
In 2015, his third Japanese season, Rossiter continued to drive the #36 Lexus in the Super GT Series and #3 Toyota in the Super Formula. Daisuke Ito became his full-time Super GT partner. They won the greatest race, the Suzuka 1000, to finish seventh in the final standings.
In the Super Formula, Rossiter's best result was sixth place at Autopolis and he finished 12th in the final classification of the championship.
2016 was the last Super Formula season
One more Japanese season with the same schedule followed in 2016. In the Super GT Series, Rossiter switched a car, moving from #36 Lexus to #37 Lexus, sharing a car with Ryo Hirakawa. Without wins, scoring two podiums, they finished 9th in the championship.
In his third Super Formula season with Kondo Racing's #3 Toyota, Rossiter was again far from the top, with fifth place as his best result. At the end of the season, he was tenth in the points.
Return to #36 Lexus in 2017 Super GT season
For the 2017 Super GT season, Rossiter returned to the #36 Lexus. The Japanese manufacturer introduced a new car, the Lexus LC 500, which won four consecutive races at the start of the season. Rossiter and his co-driver Kazuki Nakajima were the winners in the third round at Autopolis. In the second round, at Fuji Speedway, Nakajima was replaced by Daisuke Ito.
Occasional FIA WEC participations for Lotus and ByKolles
During his successful career in Japan, Rossiter stayed connected with Lotus, and later the ByKolles Racing, occasionally taking part in FIA WEC races. In 2014, he raced at Circuit of the Americas and Fuji with CLM P1/01 LMP1 car.
In 2016, he was driving the same car for ByKolles Racing at Silverstone and Spa. For the 2017 FIA WEC season, the team prepared the new Nismo-powered LMP1 car, inviting Rossiter to drive at Silverstone and Spa.