Lewis Hamilton a fan of new Sochi Autodrom circuit

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After finishing over eight-tenths of a second clear of the field during second practice on Friday, it may come as little surprise that Lewis Hamilton has said that he is a fan of the Sochi Autodrom circuit that will host this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

The sport returns to Russia after 100 years away this weekend at the newly-built track which incorporates the complex used for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

After finishing second in FP1, Hamilton hit back in the second session to move well clear of the field, but he still believes that there is room for improvement.

“I like the new circuit,” Hamilton said. “It’s got really good grip and great corners, with a lot at medium speed. It’s good fun.

“The car has been feeling really good today. McLaren look close which is great for everyone as it should make for a decent race.

“We’ve got quite a good balance with the car so there are a lot of boxes ticked but we still have work to do to see if we can improve for tomorrow.”

Hamilton’s sentiments were echoed by his team boss, Toto Wolff, who praised the organizers for the facility they have built in Sochi.

“My compliments go to the organisers on the standard of the facility here in Sochi and this challenging new circuit,” Wolff said. “Like at any new track, the surface was very green today and we need running time for the grip levels to build up; we could see that lap times were improving all the way through both sessions.

“The conditions will probably ramp up even further through the weekend and we need to make the right decisions on set-up.”

Nico Rosberg had been the fastest man in the first session, but faded in FP2 on Friday afternoon, finishing fourth.

“The team decided to go two different ways in terms of setup,” Rosberg explained. “I took a very creative setup for my car in the second practice session, which didn’t work out.

“So we will go back to the conservative way for tomorrow, because we saw that Lewis was very quick with that.”

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.