Carlos Sainz Jr. closes in on Formula Renault 3.5 title

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Carlos Sainz Jr. has taken a huge step towards winning the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 championship after winning the first race of this weekend’s double-header at Circuit Paul Ricard in France.

The Renault-backed championship acts as a feeder series to Formula 1, but unlike GP2 is does not regularly appear on its undercard. In recent years, it has produced drivers such as Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, and the class of 2014 also has many promising drivers.

Sainz has been vying for a seat in F1 for some time now, and was widely expected to join Toro Rosso until 16-year-old Max Verstappen was given a shock promotion.

However, he has continued to impress in Formula Renault 3.5, and took a big step towards the title by winning today’s race from pole position, leading every lap to win ahead of Pierre Gasly and Mathieu Vaxiviere.

As a result, Sainz can win the championship in the second race on Sunday if title rival Roberto Merhi fails to finish inside the top seven.

“It is an incredible day,” the Spaniard said after the race. “We needed this victory at this time of the season. Friday was a difficult day, but we did what we needed to do in qualifying, then kept the lead at the start and restart which wasn’t easy as I had opened a gap before the safety car. Then, we won the race!

“Pierre and I had similar pace, which meant I wasn’t allowed a mistake and I had to keep the lead above two seconds to keep him out of my tow!”

Merhi, who recently took part in F1 practice for Caterham at the Italian Grand Prix, could only finish fifth, allowing the gap to Sainz at the top to grow to 31 points.

If Sainz wins tomorrows race and Merhi fails to finish inside the top seven, he will win the Formula Renault 3.5 title with one round to spare.

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.