Engine issue costs Maldonado shot at points finish

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Pastor Maldonado was left frustrated after today’s Bahrain Grand Prix thanks to a problem with his engine that cost him a shot at a points finish.

The Lotus driver has endured a difficult start to the 2015 season, failing to finish any of the first three races despite having the pace to rank inside the top ten.

A brake issue in qualifying left Maldonado 16th on the grid, and despite receiving a time penalty for starting out of position on the grid, he was soon battling for points with Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr.

Lotus managed to get its driver ahead of the Brazilian pair thanks to a swift second pit stop, but it proved to be the high point of his race.

When entering the pits for a third time, Maldonado suffered an engine problem that forced him to stop outside his garage whilst the team tried to cool the car down.

He eventually rejoined the race, only to finish down in 15th position ahead of the Manor drivers.

“That was a frustrating race for me,” Maldonado said. “I pushed as hard as possible at the start on the medium tires whilst everyone around me was on the grippier soft compound rubber.

“Once I moved to the soft tires I was able to set the race’s then fastest lap so things looked good with our strategy.

“Unfortunately the engine anti-kill triggered when I came in to make my final pit stop which cost me a lot of time. It’s frustrating as we should have finished strongly.

“My focus is now Barcelona where I’ve delivered very strongly in the past.”

His teammate, Romain Grosjean, fared far better in the sister Lotus car, finishing seventh for the second race in a row and picking up six points for the team.

“It had been a tough weekend until now for me, so it was really great to get another strong seventh position,” Grosjean said. “Today’s race was great, especially as there was lots of overtaking. I was really hoping to catch Daniel Ricciardo but he was too quick for us today.

“It was quite difficult to manage tires, especially with the rears so I think we did a good job to make the two-stop strategy work. We only had new medium compound tires for the race, the rest were scrubbed, so it really was a great job by the team.

“It was a good recovery from Friday and Saturday’s session and I’ll happily take seventh place as my birthday gift for myself and the team.”

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.”