Williams receive fine for second tire misdemeanor

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Williams have been fined for the second race in succession after a wheel nut came loose on Pastor Maldonado’s car during FP2 for the Indian Grand Prix today.

The nut came loose on the Venezuelan’s front-right wheel during the second session on Friday afternoon, eventually falling off the car and causing a puncture on the tire. Despite trying to make his way back to the pits, Maldonado was instructed to pull over just before pit entry thus ending his practice running.

A similar incident occurred at the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago, but the FIA opted not to give a more severe penalty despite the repeat offence, instead fining Williams €60,000 ($83,000).

The team did not dwell on the matter, merely stating that they had not found the cause of the problem yet.

“Unfortunately we had to cut Pastor’s run short as we had a problem with the front-right wheel nut following a pitstop,” chief engineer Xevi Pujolar explained. “We are still investigating what happened.”

Despite the incident, Maldonado appeared to be upbeat following an otherwise-productive day in India.

“We had a good first session this morning completing all planned runs,” he said. “FP2 was also quite good as we were working on the car, trying to help the balance and improve the speed. We are not expecting things to be much different to the previous few races.”

Rumors surrounding the Venezuelan driver’s future have continued to circulate in India, with Lotus reportedly considering him as a replacement for the Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen.

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.”