Stevens impresses in maiden F1 qualifying outing

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ABU DHABI – Formula 1 debutant Will Stevens enjoyed a successful maiden qualifying outing for Caterham in Abu Dhabi today, feeling that he could have matched the pace of teammate Kamui Kobayashi had he not made a mistake on his final lap.

Following Caterham’s surprise return to the grid for the race in Abu Dhabi, Stevens was confirmed to be replacing Marcus Ericsson after the Swedish driver terminated his deal with the team last week.

The British Formula Renault 3.5 driver managed to secure his FIA super licence on Thursday, meaning that he could take part in this weekend’s race for Caterham and make his F1 debut.

After a difficult pair of practice sessions on Friday, Stevens began to get to grips with the CT-05 car on Saturday, finishing just half a second shy of Kobayashi in qualifying despite having completed far less running.

However, he feels that he could have outqualified his teammate had it not been for a mistake on his final Q1 lap.

“I was looking very strong on my last qualifying lap,” Stevens explained. “I matched Kamui through the first two sectors but I made a mistake going into Turn 17. I was actually a second quicker than my previous lap at that point.

“I’m pleased because I know that if I hadn’t made that mistake I would’ve been matching my teammate, but obviously I’m disappointed because I could’ve done better.

“Overall it’s been a positive day. This morning in FP3 we started to push and I had some good performance runs. I was pretty happy with my prime tire run but my option run was quite messy and I didn’t get the most out of the tires.

“I feel comfortable and I just need to keep a cool head and enjoy my first ever Formula 1 race tomorrow. We will all do our best as we want to show all the fans out there how much their support means to us.”

Following the exclusion of both Red Bull drivers from qualifying, Stevens will make his F1 race debut from 17th place on the grid.

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.