Ricciardo relieved to be free of speculation

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Daniel Ricciardo has spoken to the world’s media for the first time since being confirmed as a Red Bull driver for 2014 today ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, admitting that it is a relief for his future to be secure.

After compatriot Mark Webber confirmed at Silverstone that he would be retiring from Formula One at the end of the season, Ricciardo was shortlisted alongside Kimi Raikkonen and Jean-Eric Vergne for the seat. However, as the ‘last man standing’, Ricciardo was eventually confirmed as Sebastian Vettel’s teammate for 2014 on Monday, and the Australian is glad that the speculation has now died down.

“I think it’s a bit of a relief now that there’s no more speculation and no more dodging questions and all the rest of it,” Ricciardo explained. “Everyone knows what’s happening, including me. It’s nice. It’s something to look forward to and obviously I’m very pleased with the news but I have eight more races this year and looking forward to giving Toro Rosso a nice farewell I hope and I’ll put all my energy into that.”

In Belgium two weeks ago, Ricciardo had been bombarded with questions about his future and remained insistent that nothing had been secured. Today in Italy, he confirmed that he only received confirmation last Wednesday, five days ahead of the global announcement.

“To be honest, in Spa, as I said, I still didn’t know – that was the truth. I found out, I think it was Wednesday that following week, so a few days before the announcement took place.”

Ricciardo will be hoping to prove that he is worthy of the seat by putting in some strong displays during his final eight races with Toro Rosso this season.

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.”