Pujolar full of praise for Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso

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Toro Rosso race engineer Xevi Pujolar has heaped praise upon 17-year-old Max Verstappen, calling the Dutchman “the best I’ve seen so far”.

Verstappen will become the youngest ever driver to start a Formula 1 race in March at the Australian Grand Prix, smashing Sebastian Vettel’s existing record by over two years.

However, his rise to F1 has prompted criticism from many due to his age and relative inexperience, having completed just one year of single-seater racing prior to 2015.

Pujolar is not concerned though, telling GP Update that Verstappen is far beyond his years in terms of professionalism and has the potential to be one of the greatest in the history of the sport.

“He’s the best I’ve seen so far,” Pujolar said. “You can see the potential is there. You can see he’s going up.

“Some guys might be 10 or 15 years in motorsport, or even in F1, and their level of professionalism will never be as good as Max’s is at the moment.

“He wants to be the best and he works 100% for that. He wants the people around him to work just as hard. He’s pushing the engine guys, he’s pushing me and he’s pushing the team.”

Verstappen’s quick promotion led to the introduction of new criteria for the award of an FIA super licence required to race in F1. As of 2016, drivers will have to be at least 18 years old and hold a valid driving licence in their home country, meaning that Verstappen’s record may never be beaten.

During his first test for the team in Jerez at the beginning of the month, Verstappen put in a very impressive display to finish ninth in the final standings from the test with a good amount of track time under his belt.

Time will tell whether Verstappen’s rapid rise to F1 has been justified, but the early signs from the Dutchman are certainly encouraging.

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.