Sirotkin claims maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory

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Sauber junior driver Sergey Sirotkin has claimed his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory in Moscow today.

The Russian racer joined Sauber mid-way through last season with the view to claiming a full-time seat in 2014 and becoming the youngest driver in F1 history. However, after the necessary investment failed to materialize for this season, he opted to spend another year in the Renault-backed feeder series.

Sirotkin has come under fire since joining Sauber, with many deeming him to be too young and too inexperienced. In Formula Renault 3.5, he has failed to set the world on fire with his performances, but today in Moscow he finally claimed his first victory.

Having secured pole position for the race on Saturday, he went from lights-to-flag to beat Zoel Amberg and Pietro Fantin, giving the home crowd in Moscow something to celebrate today. However, no-one was happier than Sirotkin himself.

“Thank you to everyone, this is incredible,” he said. “It is the best moment of my life! The season got off to a bad start, but the team made good use of the short break to bounce back. And there is no better place to do it!

“We started strong in practice and it moved on today. It wasn’t easy to manage the temperature in the rear tyres, but we came through. Thanks to the entire team, really!”

Earlier this week, Sirotkin revealed that he will take part in free practice for Sauber at the Russian Grand Prix in October, and also called stablemate Simona de Silvestro a “marketing move” as the two drivers vie for a full-time seat in 2015.

Although one victory will not greatly change the F1 paddock’s view of Sirotkin, it is certainly a sign that he does have the pace to compete and could yet earn himself a seat in the sport with Sauber.

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.”