Red Bull deems Jerez a success despite minor problems

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In complete contrast to its miserable F1 pre-season in 2014, Red Bull has deemed the first test of the year in Jerez a success despite encountering a number of minor problems across the four days.

Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat managed to complete just 164 laps in Jerez, putting Red Bull eighth out of the nine teams in terms of mileage ahead of only McLaren, who suffered teething problems with the new Honda engine.

The pace of the RB11 did not exactly stun in Jerez as Ricciardo finished with the 12th-fastest time of the test, two places ahead of Kvyat. Both drivers suffered issues with the new car, including an embarrassing incident for Kvyat when he damaged the only front wing that the team had brought to Jerez on Monday.

Nevertheless, head of race engineering Guillaume Rocquelin feels that the team is in good shape following the test despite not achieving everything that it set out to.

“This week has all been about establishing reliability and while we’ve had a few niggles the car is pretty much where we want it to be,” Rocquelin said on Wednesday. “We focused on medium and long runs all week and Dany was able to do more of that work this afternoon.

“We did lose track time over the four days and that’s always frustrating, as you inevitably have to scratch some things off the ‘to do’ list, but the major items were covered so I would say we’re leaving Jerez in pretty decent shape.”

Kvyat’s final day in Jerez was cut short by an ERS problem on his car, but the young Russian took the positives out of his first running for Red Bull ahead of his race debut for the team in March.

“We had an issue this morning but we managed to overcome that and we had a clean run in the afternoon, so I’m really happy to have got a lot of laps under my belt today,” he said. “All in all, I think it was a very productive day, with a lot of positives.

“I think we know where we are and where we want to be for the next test in Barcelona. We’ve made good progress this week and hopefully there’s more to come.”

F1 pre-season testing recommences in Barcelona on February 19th.

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.”