Junior announcements aplenty in GP2, GP3, Formula Renault 3.5

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It has been a busy few days in the world of junior motorsport, with a number of driver announcements being made across the racing ladder.

Earlier today, we received confirmation that GP3 runner-up and former F2 champion Dean Stoneman has joined Red Bull’s junior programme for the 2015 season, securing a seat in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship with DAMS as a result.

What makes Stoneman’s story all the more incredible is the fact that he was fighting cancer just four years ago – a fight he won to resume his racing career. He is joined in the Red Bull junior programme by European karting champion Callum Ilott and the returning Pierre Gasly.

Besides Red Bull’s junior movement, here’s a quick run-down of the other announcements from the past few days:

GP2

  • Rene Binder (pictured) returns for a second full season in GP2, moving from Arden International to Trident where he will race alongside Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello. “We met Rene at the end of the 2014 season and we appreciated the efficiency of his driving style, which is clean and aggressive,” Trident owner Maurizio Salvadori said. “The lap times set were extremely interesting.”

GP3

  • Campos Racing will make its debut in the GP3 Series in 2015, and has wasted little time in confirming the first of its drivers. Alex Palou and Zaid Ashkanani will both make their debuts in the series this year. Palou, 17, raced in EuroFormula last year, whilst Ashkanani won the Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East Challenge in 2014.
  • Alex Bosak of Poland will race for Arden in GP3 this year, as confirmed last week.

Formula Renault 3.5

  • As above, Dean Stoneman joins defending champions DAMS for the new season, racing alongside McLaren junior Nyck de Vries.
  • Meindert van Buuren joins Lotus for the new 3.5 campaign, racing alongside the returning Mathieu Vaxiviere.
  • Nicholas Latifi completes Arden’s line-up for 2015, joining Egor Orudzhev.
  • Alfonso Celis Jr. will be a busy boy in 2015, racing in both Formula Renault 3.5 and GP3. He was confirmed at AVF for the new season yesterday.
  • Roy Nissany, son of one-time F1 test driver Chanoch Nissany, will race for Tech 1 Racing in 2015.
  • Bruno Bonifacio graduates to Formula Renault 3.5 in 2015 with International Draco Racing, forming an all-Brazilian line-up alongside Pietro Fantin.

FIA F3 European Championship

  • Lance Stroll of Canada continues in the Ferrari Driver Academy, moving up into a seat at Prema Powerteam in the FIA F3 series after winning the Italian F4 title last year.
  • Callum Ilott graduates to single seaters with Red Bull backing, racing for Carlin.

Keep an eye out for some of these names as a few will undoubtedly be gracing F1 at some point in the 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.”