Grosjean buoyed by improvement in performance

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Romain Grosjean has made no secret of his happiness following a strong qualifying session at the Nurburgring today. The French driver will line up 5th on the grid, ahead of both Ferrari drivers and just one place behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

“It’s good for the team,” Grosjean told NBC Sports’ Will Buxton after qualifying. “I’m a bit disappointed with my first sector on the last lap, two or three tenths there that we could have been better.”

Kimi Raikkonen also revealed that he lost time on his final run, potentially costing Lotus a place in the top three on the grid. However, Grosjean is still pleased with the result, believing that the new tires and the increased temperature has suited the team.

“Generally much more happier with the way the car is going, the new tires seem to suit us pretty well, the temperature is coming, summer finally shows up which is great news. Hopefully tomorrow the race will be good.”

The Lotus driver is chasing his first top-ten finish since the Bahrain Grand Prix, where he finished on the podium. There have been rumors circulating suggesting that Grosjean could be replaced in the near-future by Davide Valsecchi, Lotus’ reserve driver. However, strong performances like this will certainly do Grosjean a world of good, although carrying this form over into the race is crucial.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”