Ricciardo pleased to rack up mileage in Barcelona

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Daniel Ricciardo is pleased to have finally racked up a large amount of mileage in a single day of testing after completing 142 laps in Barcelona on Friday.

The Australian driver posted the fastest time of the day with a best lap of 1:24.574, edging out Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by 0.010 seconds at the top of the timesheets.

However, the more impressive stat was that he was able to complete a full race simulation on Friday afternoon, managing a full 66-lap run that included pit stops, just as he would do in a grand prix.

For Ricciardo, getting a large amount of mileage under his belt was the priority in Barcelona, and he was encouraged by the pace that the RB11 showed.

“It was good,” he said. “We wanted to get a day with a 100-plus laps on the board and we did that and more today. It was very solid.

“We also got through some pit stop practice and some good long runs, which is very positive. I know it’s just testing but it is encouraging seeing us on top or at least in that front group. Obviously you have no idea what everyone is doing, but it is encouraging.

“The car feels good. It has similar characteristics to RB10 in terms of how the chassis feels but that’s a good thing, as I think we had a pretty good car last year. All in all a really good day’s work.”

Red Bull’s head of race engineering Guillaume Rocquelin was pleased with the team’s showing on Friday after a truncated Thursday of running, and also explained that the issue which caused Ricciardo to stop at the end of the pit lane in the morning was a minor one.

“Day one was all about tuning the new elements we had brought here and it was always going to be a bit stop-start but by the end of yesterday we were on top of that and running well and today was the reward for all that hard work,” Rocquelin explained.

“We had a small issue on Daniel’s installation lap, again caused by a software gremlin, but that was quickly sorted and we could get to work on the programme we had in place.

“In the morning that meant a lot of pit stop practice first thing, giving way to some tire work in advance of our afternoon programme. We switched over to long runs in the afternoon and by the close of play we’d got through everything we wanted to on the day.”

Ricciardo will hand the RB11 over to his teammate, Daniil Kvyat, for the next two days of testing in Barcelona.

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.”