Grosjean hungry for points after reaching Q3 in China

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Romain Grosjean has his sights firmly set on a points finish in tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix after qualifying eighth on Saturday in Shanghai.

The Lotus driver has endured a difficult start to the season, failing to score any points in his first two races despite looking capable of a top ten finish.

Coming to China this weekend, Grosjean was hopeful of a strong display, and delivered it in qualifying to secure eighth place on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

“It was a very tight qualifying session which made it very exciting in the car and I’m sure exciting to watch too,” Grosjean said. “We made some good changes from yesterday which gave me a nice balance and I think that was about the best possible from the car at the moment.

“It’s going to be a long race and I think the key will be to take care of your front left tires. I’m enjoying driving the E23 and I think we’ve found a strong baseline set-up which is important for me.”

His teammate, Pastor Maldonado, missed out on a Q3 berth by just 0.007 seconds in qualifying, and will start the race from 11th place.

“I expect to fight in Q3 but it’s been harder for me so far this weekend than it has in the previous two races,” Maldonado said. “For whatever reason we’ve struggled through the weekend to find the right balance from the car which means I can’t be fully confident to push on this type of track.

“That said, I’m looking forward to tomorrow as we’re stronger on race pace so will be much more competitive hunting down those points we want.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30a ET on Sunday.

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.”