Grosjean pleased with P1 and progress made by Lotus

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Romain Grosjean may have only spent one day behind the wheel of the Lotus E23 Hybrid in Barcelona this week, but the Frenchman made the most of it by finishing as the fastest driver on Sunday.

A best lap time of 1:24.067 saw Grosjean finish ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, marking the third day in four that Lotus had ended up on top of the timesheets.

Although he remains cautious about the pace being shown by the rest of the field, Grosjean was pleased with the result and, more importantly, the progress that Lotus had made across the course of the test.

“It was great to get behind the wheel of the E23 once more,” Grosjean said. “Conditions were pretty tricky with quite a bit of wind, especially early on, but the car ran well, meaning we could complete the tests we wanted to – even if I had to modify my lines in the morning because the wind was pushing the car!

“We made some good improvements with the balance and set-up over the course of the day and it felt a lot better after we made changes for the afternoon.

“We completed a very promising mileage and it’s always good to see your name at the top of the timing monitors, even if it is far too early to know what everyone else is doing.”

Since making the switch to Mercedes power units for the 2015 season, Lotus appears to have made a big step forwards in terms of pace and reliability. Technical director Nick Chester was pleased with what had been achieved in Barcelona, but still believes that much more is possible in next week’s final test.

“We’ve enjoyed a solid first test in Barcelona with good reliability and encouraging performance,” Chester said. “The biggest positive we have seen so far is the reliability of the E23 which is enabling us to push along with our assessments and evaluations over the course of 361 laps or 1680km.

“During this test, we’ve completed plenty of laps so we have plenty to be working on over the next three days before we’re back in action here.”

Testing resumes at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Thursday.

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.