A tidy Thursday for Valtteri Bottas and Williams

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Valtteri Bottas believes there’s still room to improve for Williams after today’s test work at Bahrain International Circuit, but overall, the second-year Formula One driver was pleased.

Bottas was second-fastest on the chart with a lap at 1:36.184 – almost a full second behind the pace-setter from Sergio Perez, but part of a day that saw him run the most laps out of anyone with 128.

“It’s been another good day for us,” he said. “It was nice to get the whole run plan done. We didn’t have any issues all day, so well done to all the team for getting the car running so well. We have a lot of data to analyze tonight after doing some aero work this morning and a race distance and set-up work this afternoon.

“We did some very interesting tests and there are still plenty of things to improve, so we’ll keep pushing.”

Bottas’ to-do list on Thursday had a little bit of everything according to Rob Nelson, the team’s chief test and support engineer.

“We started the morning by testing some aero components, all of which correlated well with what we were expected from the wind tunnel,” he said. “We then did a race simulation this afternoon including laps to the grid and everything that goes into a race and that also went well. We then completed our program for today with some new tire work for Pirelli.

“Overall, it’s been a really good day completing 128 laps.”

Felipe Massa will step into the FW36 tomorrow for the Grove-based outfit.

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.