Massa pleased to edge out Ferrari to be ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes in qualifying

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Felipe Massa was pleased to finish as the top non-Mercedes driver in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday, edging out the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen for third place on the grid.

Massa posted a best final lap time of 1:27.718 to qualify P3, albeit some eight-tenths down on the all-conquering Mercedes cars on the front row of the grid.

The battle to be ‘best of the race’ was always expected to be a close one between Williams and Ferrari, and come the checkered flag in Q3, Massa managed to edge out Vettel by 0.05 seconds after hooking up his final lap of the session.

“It was a very tricky qualifying, especially when you have four cars fighting with very similar times all of the time,” Massa explained. “If you see the difference in the lap times between me, Sebastian and Kimi and also Valtteri [Bottas], it’s pretty small.

“I’m happy that I did a good lap, that’s the best lap of the day, the last one, which was not so easy with the wind changing – so easy to have front locking in corners that I had not on this lap. Maybe I just prepared everything for the last try and it worked pretty well.

“It will be a big fight tomorrow with Ferrari especially, but I just hope we can do a good job.”

You can watch the Australian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 12:30a ET tomorrow.

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.