Safety car period costs Alonso possible podium finish

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Fernando Alonso’s hopes of a sixth podium finish in seven years at the Singapore Grand Prix were left in tatters when a safety car period forced him to make a pit stop, leaving him fourth behind race winner Lewis Hamilton and the two Red Bull drivers.

Alonso had run as high as second on-track, passing Sebastian Vettel following the second round of pit stops. However, when the safety car was deployed to clear the debris from a collision between Sergio Perez and Adrian Sutil, Ferrari opted to pit the Spaniard for a third time, dropping him to fourth place.

Despite being on a fresher set of tires, Alonso could not catch either Vettel or third-placed Daniel Ricciardo, falling 1.3 seconds short at the flag.

Alonso wasn’t too downbeat about the result, feeling that Ferrari has made a profound step forwards in Singapore this weekend.

“With hindsight it’s easy to ask how things would have gone if I hadn’t made a mistake at the start and the safety car hadn’t come out when it did,” Alonso said.

“Overall, I’m pleased with this weekend, because we were competitive and were able to fight with the front-runners.

“Sometimes, a safety car can help but I think that today on this front, we were a bit unlucky, because at that moment we were trying to make sure of second place and our strategy was good.

“We didn’t have much of an alternative, because if we had stayed out, the probability was that the stop for the softs would have cost us more places.

“Even if in the end, I wasn’t able to get past, the fact we were competitive right to the finish confirms we have made a step forward. Now, in Suzuka, a real circuit, we will have a clearer picture of where we are.”

Alonso’s fourth-place finish was enough to move him up into P4 in the drivers’ championship ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who failed to score on Sunday.

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.