Pastor Maldonado facing 10-place grid penalty at Suzuka

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Pastor Maldonado is set to be given a 10-place grid penalty by the stewards at Suzuka for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix after Lotus changed the internal combustion engine on his E22 car today.

As part of the new engine regulations for the 2014 season, teams were permitted to use just five of each engine component across the course of the year.

However, with the new power units proving to be particularly troublesome, most of the drivers are expected to be hit with some sort of engine penalty before the end of the season.

In Italy, Daniil Kvyat became the first driver to use a sixth component, warranting a 10-place grid penalty. After qualifying 11th, the Russian driver dropped to 21st place on the grid at Monza.

Had he not been able to take the whole penalty in Italy, it would have been carried over to the next race in Singapore. Given Maldonado’s poor qualifying form this year, it is unlikely he will qualify any higher than 12th on Saturday, and is likely to take the overspill of the penalty to the Russian Grand Prix next weekend.

During practice on Friday, Maldonado enjoyed rather average sessions, finishing 17th in FP1 and 16th in FP2. However, he was pleased with how they went, and is still hopeful of a good result in spite of his penalty.

“I’m happy with today,” Maldonado said. “There were no issues with the car and the only problem I had was a vibration from my hard tires in the second session.

“Suzuka is a great circuit and I think we have quite good potential here. There’s some more pace to come and our car has looked quite reasonable.

“I will have a bigger challenge in the race as there will be a 10-place grid penalty as we’re now on to our sixth engine, but if we can race reliably then a good result is still possible.”

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.