MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Singapore GP

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As the sun begins to set on the 2014 Formula 1 season, we venture to Singapore for the second night race of the year.

Since making its debut back in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has quickly established itself as one of the highlight events of the season, welcoming stars from all over the world to see the racing under the lights.

However, the true stars are the ones out on track. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continue to toil and tussle for supremacy at the top of the drivers’ championship, and with just six races remaining, this weekend’s round could be crucial in deciding the destination of the title.

As ever, the MST writing team has the task of making its predictions for the race weekend. Here’s how we think things will play out in Singapore on Sunday.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Riding high following his win at Monza, I’m backing Lewis to double up and claim his seventh win of the season. He has a good track record in Singapore, and sees to thrive under the pressure of a street race. Rosberg will run him close, though.

Surprising finish: Sebastian Vettel. If Seb is going to win anywhere, it’s here. After struggling at Monza and Spa, the German driver could bounce back this weekend at a track more suited to the RB10 car. A fourth straight Singapore GP victory may be unlikely, but he should be the man to round out the podium behind the Silver Arrows.

Most to prove: Nico Rosberg. Harsh? Yes. But after throwing away a possible victory in Italy, Nico needs to prove that he can handle the pressure of a championship fight. With six races to go, it’s his to lose. 22 points shouldn’t disappear overnight – but they just might this Sunday.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Has traditionally run well in Singapore even if the results don’t show it. Provided his qualifying is up to par, he should be good for two-in-a-row as he continues to close the points gap.

Surprising finish: Sebastian Vettel. Seems a bit weird to say that about the four-time defending World Champion and three-time defending race winner. But this is a track that should suit the Red Bull chassis particularly well (no major straights), and my money is on Vettel returning to the podium for the first time since Canada way back in June.

Most to prove: Kevin Magnussen. With the silly season rumor mill swirling out of control, Magnussen needs a good race weekend where he beats teammate Jenson Button. He’s not finished better than the Englishman since Austria, and could turn some heads with a solid effort on this new circuit to him.

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. The pack should be closer to Mercedes this weekend on the tight, twisty Singapore street circuit, but I think Rosberg will have a proper response to Lewis Hamilton’s Monza win from two weeks ago.

Surprising finish: Jules Bianchi. He couldn’t possibly replicate his stellar drive at Monaco, could he? Well, why not? Singapore tends to have its share of accidents, and that attrition could help the talented Frenchman once again crack the points for Marussia.

Most to prove: Jean-Eric Vergne. He and Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat have been out of the points in the last two races, but both should threaten for Top-10 runs in Singapore; that’s especially critical for JEV as he continues the fight to save his spot on the F1 grid.

Jerry Bonkowski (@JerryBonkowski)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes pilot is closing in on teammate Nico Rosberg, and just in time as the season begins to wind down (six races remain). The way I look at it, this isn’t Rosberg’s championship to lose, but Hamilton’s to win. If Hamilton can win and Rosberg finishes off the podium (Singapore isn’t exactly Rosberg’s strongest track, with just one podium finish in six starts), Hamilton can make this a very, very tight race going forward.

Surprising finish: Jenson Button. It’s too little, too late for this season, but Button is looking to salvage as much as he can for 2014. He was one of only three drivers who moved up one place in the standings after the last race, up to seventh. It’s doubtful he can finish the season in the top-five, but it’s better late than never for him to mount a late-season surge of sorts.

Most to prove: Sebastian Vettel. Can the German native make it four wins in a row at Singapore? He’s been untouchable the last three races in Singapore. But all good things must come to an end. Is it time for Vettel to give up his Singapore domination? And is it time for someone like Hamilton, who has a Singapore win on his resume, to start a new winner’s tradition?

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.”