Alonso hoping to mix things up in Russia

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Fernando Alonso is pinning his hopes of a good result in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix on “mixing it up” after a difficult qualifying session in Sochi.

The Spanish driver could only finish eighth in the final session on Saturday, one place ahead of Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen as the Italian team struggled to keep up with the Mercedes-powered cars ahead.

“Today’s qualifying was more difficult than usual,” Alonso admitted. “At least more complicated compared to the last two race weekends, when we had been able to fight with the front-runners.

“So far here, we have not been competitive, even though the car seems okay and on the setup front, we’ve changed almost nothing. We can’t single out any particular bad point because we are losing in all the sectors.

“The truth is just that the cars ahead of us were quicker.”

Alonso believes that an array of variable factors in tomorrow’s race could play in his favor, with a one-stop race on the cards at a track where track evolution has been constant.

“Here, the grip seems to improve with every lap and on top of that, reducing the pit lane speed to 60 km/h all points to a one-stop strategy,” he said.

“Even if the safety car could mix things up a bit, I think tomorrow, the start and the first corner could define the outcome of the race, and so we must prepare to tackle the early stages as well as possible.”

Alonso looks set to leave Ferrari at the end of the year to make way for Sebastian Vettel, but he will still be giving it his all in the final four races for the Italian marque as it continues to fight for third place in the constructors’ championship.

You can watch the Russian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET tomorrow.

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.