Alonso has no regrets over Ferrari departure, now plans to retire after McLaren stint

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Fernando Alonso has insisted that he has no regrets over his decision to leave Ferrari at the end of the 2014 season despite his former team re-finding its form at the start of the new year.

Alonso left Ferrari for McLaren after five years at Maranello, making way for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to join the Italian team from Red Bull.

Vettel claimed his first win for Ferrari in just his second start at the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago, whilst Alonso retired after spending most of the race outside of the top ten positions.

This led many to question whether Alonso had made a mistake by parting company with Ferrari before the team’s revival, but the Spaniard explained to reporters in China that he had no regrets.

“I had five fantastic years and we came very close two times to win the championship, so I only have good memories and good feelings,” Alonso said. “But it was enough, and to keep doing lap after lap, and year after year was not motivating me any more.

“It’s challenging, and I’m looking forward to starting a new team with a new project because this makes me happy and makes me full. I was not happy with my mind and my soul any more.”

Alonso also revealed that he plans to retire from F1 following his stint with McLaren, and does not expect to take up another role in the sport.

“I started with McLaren-Honda when I was three years old, a replica [car] from my father,” he said, referring to a white and red go-kart he raced in as a child. “I will finish with McLaren-Honda, but the real one in F1, and that will be one third of my life.

“The normal life will start that day when I retire, and I do not see myself as a manager here or following the sport. That will be enough.”

Alonso has previously confirmed to NBCSN that he plans to take part in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans before he stops racing, suggesting that his career in cars may not end when his F1 one does.

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.”