Raikkonen: “Whole package” improved for Ferrari, but work remains

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The opening preseason test is hardly the time to declare true contenders. Kimi Raikkonen has long known this.

So while his Ferrari camp led three of the past four days of Formula One testing in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain – twice with Sebastian Vettel and with himself on Wednesday – Raikkonen said afterwards that it doesn’t mean all that much.

“It’s the whole package that has progressed, but there is still a lot of work to do,” said Raikkonen, who did acknowledge that the team had made “a good step forward” over the winter in developing the new SF15-T.

“We are not comparing ourselves to the others, we just got on with our own job, without looking at what they were doing. Times are of relatively little importance; what matters is that we have put together a good number of laps without having any real problems.

“Today’s conditions were not that easy, with too strong a wind blowing on track, but then it’s the same for everyone. As I said, we now have a good basis from which to start the development work.”

Two more F1 preseason tests are on tap for Barcelona next month, and they should provide a clearer view of which teams will start 2015 with an advantage and which teams will be on the back foot.

Ferrari’s undergone many changes leading up to this season in hopes of returning to contention. One of those changes involved the addition of a new team principal in Maurizio Arrivabene, and following the first 2015 test, Arrivabene said he was pleased that the team had “rediscovered its motivation and team spirit.”

“If one makes a comparison to last year [at Jerez], these past few days of testing have produced encouraging signs,” he said. “The team has worked well, both at home and at the track and our drivers did a great job, providing the engineers with valuable feedback.”

But like Raikkonen, he tempered his optimism.

“In terms of performance, I don’t think our competitors – one in particular – have shown their true potential over these past days,” Arrivabene said, likely referring to reigning World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. “I think we will only discover the truth about them and about ourselves at the last Barcelona test session.”

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.