McLaren: Late season upgrades aiding 2015 development

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has said that the team’s late-season upgrades for the 2014 MP4-29 car will also help with the development of next year’s car.

The British team has endured two difficult seasons in 2013 and 2014, and currently ranks fifth in this year’s constructors’ championship after passing Force India at the last race in Russia.

For some time, McLaren’s focus has been on 2015 when Honda is set to return as an engine supplier, rekindling the famously successful partnership from the late 1980s.

However, Boullier explained to the media earlier this week that the team was planning a major upgrade for the end of the current season, which will aid development of the 2015 car as well as improving its short-term performance.

“We have another major upgrade coming before the end of the season,” Boullier said. “It is not designed to bring an advantage for the double points [in Abu Dhabi], it is more about building the foundations for the future.

“[It’s] 100% applicable to next year’s car.”

The team currently trails Ferrari by 48 points in the constructors’ championship, and could yet seize fourth place off the Italian marque with a strong final trio of races.

Speculation about McLaren’s driver line-up for 2015 continues to rage on, with Jenson Button being linked with a move to the FIA World Endurance Championship should he be forced out of Woking.

The team does plan to make an announcement before the end of the season, leaving little time for it to make a final decision about the future of its drivers – and equally, its drivers little time to make a decision about their own future.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”