Caterham’s Fernandes says he could walk away from F1

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It has been, literally, a pointless existence in Formula One for Caterham. Entering its fifth season in the world’s most popular motorsport, the Tony Fernandes-owned team has gone through three guises (Lotus Racing in 2010, Team Lotus in 2011, Caterham since 2012) but has scored no World Championship points.

And that has Fernandes, also the owner of English soccer team Queens Park Rangers and low-cost airline AirAsia, agitated to the point that he’s seriously contemplating pulling out of F1.

“If we are at the back, I don’t think we’re going to carry on,” he said today according to Reuters after Caterham announced the signing of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson as their 2014 race drivers.

“After five years and to get no points, there’s a limit to everyone’s patience, money, etc.”

For a team that’s coming off of losing out to Marussia last year for a valuable Top 10 spot in the constructor’s championship, Fernandes’ words will only increase the pressure to perform in 2014, a year that could see a shakeup in the pecking order with the debut of new V-6 engines and other technical regulations.

Caterham, in its first brand of Lotus Racing, was one of several teams that entered the sport in 2010 alongside Virgin Racing (now Marussia) and Hispania (later HRT).

Since that point, Caterham and Marussia have carried on but have each failed to score points. HRT faded away after the 2012 season, they too having gone pointless in their three-year run.

It hasn’t helped that Fernandes’ team lacks the major financial resources of the teams on the front end of the grid, and in that regard, he told Reuters that the sport “has to examine itself,” saying that no progress is made when a team shows up and is “two seconds behind everyone else.”

Nonetheless, Fernandes is confident his team can move forward despite his apparent threat to leave the sport.

“I am saying these things with the confidence that I think we will deliver,” he said. “I would not be here otherwise. But I am also being real that if we don’t…I don’t think anyone in this office expects us to carry on being last. But we are fairly confident that we should see some progress.”

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.”