Michael: Magnussen should be an improvement

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McLaren’s sporting director Sam Michael provided a team perspective Friday as to why it has opted to bring on rookie Kevin Magnussen in place of Sergio Perez for 2014.

“You look and assess where your capabilities are where you think you can improve and the view internally is that we could improve by going with Magnussen,” Michael said. “Checo’s doing a fantastic job at the moment considering the pressure he’s under.

“It’s obviously a discussion that’s been going on for quite some time. It’s always going to be difficult when you make a call like that. But I think we’re in a very fortunate position at the moment with our young driver program, in that it’s very rich with talent and Kevin’s just the first of the guys in that pool.

“I’ve come across lots of drivers in my time in Formula One and when you see drivers like that come along, it’s very important that you react and make the most of those opportunities.”

Magnussen won’t have the benefit of the same amount of testing mileage as the last two rookies McLaren has taken on, Lewis Hamilton in 2007 and Kevin’s father Jan Magnussen in 1995. The senior Magnussen served as test driver during that season and came on for the Pacific Grand Prix in Aida as Mika Hakkinen had an operation for appendictis. Hamilton, of course, was groomed by McLaren as a youth and had two years worth of tests and time to learn the car prior to his debut in 2007.

Kevin Magnussen has had all of two tests, but more simulator work, and as a rookie will be thrown into a challenging environment. Michael assessed how he feels the Dane will handle it.

“I think we’ve factored all of those sort of things into what we’re doing, including the testing he’s done for us already, all the simulator work, his performance in the lower categories and any sort of work that we can do between now and the start of next season,” Michael said.

“I think with the rule change, the way you drive the cars is going to be quite different. We’ve already done quite a lot of work in the simulator on that at this point and, if anything, it probably lends itself some good opportunities for change.”

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.