Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi says another season of IndyCar is his "number one choice" for 2017, rather than a return to Formula One.
Rossi enjoyed a remarkable debut in America's premier open-wheel series, winning the Indy 500 at the first attempt and claiming Rookie of the Year for the season. He only switched to IndyCar in February after losing out on a full-time Manor drive to Rio Haryanto ahead of 2016.
Last year he became the first American driver to compete in F1 since 2007, driving in five of the last seven races for Manor. Despite ongoing ambitions to stay in the series, Rossi thinks another year with IndyCar is the most logical outcome.
"My options are open for both, 100 percent," Rossi told ESPN. "I do feel like I still have a lot of unfinished business in Formula One and a lot of my passion still lies there. But at the same time I've come to really enjoy and have a lot of appreciation for the IndyCar series, there's a lot of things I really like about it.
"I'll say most of my focus right now is on IndyCar, and staying, and we're doing everything we can to put a deal together soon. But with that being said my eye is always on Formula One and it's in a weird state right now, so I don't expect anything to come from it [this year] ... But I'm always available for opportunities if they present themselves."
When asked if he was referring to current team Andretti Autosport when he said "putting a deal together", he replied: "That's our number one choice, for sure, but you can't ever put your eggs into one basket. So we're talking to them the most but at the same time we're talking to a couple of other teams [in IndyCar] as well in case things go sideways, then we have a back-up option."
The American driver, who is still Manor's reserve driver, said there are tentative talks ongoing with at least one F1 outfit, but joked that they are not taking up much of his attention in terms of next season.
"Honestly, like, 95...97 percent of the teams we're talking to are IndyCar! That's where we're putting most of our focus, for sure."
The legendary Penske team is one of the IndyCar outfits Rossi is being linked to. Previously Rossi was seen as a candidate for American F1 debutants Haas, but just this week team boss Guenther Steiner explained the team's apprehension at taking a risk on a driver with limited experience and risk "breaking somebodies career" if they did not perform -- citing Rossi himself as an example.