Alonso: McLaren set for “huge step” in Barcelona

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Fernando Alonso believes that McLaren will make a “huge step” at the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks’ time following its worst ever start to a Formula 1 season.

The British team currently sits tenth in the constructors’ championship without a single point to its name after a difficult start to life with new engine supplier, Honda.

Throughout winter testing and the first four races of the season, McLaren has encountered a number of teething problems with the power unit, resulting in two retirements and two pre-race failures that reduced the team to a one-car effort in Australia and Bahrain.

However, Alonso is pleased with the progress that is being made with the MP4-30 car, and remains confident that the team can make another big step forwards at his home race on May 10.

“We are all united,” he told the official Formula 1 website. “We are all grown up and committed to this project.

“Nobody is panicking in this tough moment, and panicking can be very easy in such a tough situation.

“I predict that in Barcelona we will see the first huge step and also the power effect is low in Monaco so we should also have a good race there.

“My prediction is that the next three races will be very interesting for us. The steps that we’ve made since Melbourne all point in the right direction. We will be working flat out to increase the performance for Barcelona.

“And the odds indicate that we should. I am optimistic, even if I am aware of the fact that still a lot needs to be done.”

Alonso came close to scoring McLaren’s first points of the season at the last race in Bahrain, finishing less than four seconds behind Felipe Massa in tenth place.

However, the plight of teammate Jenson Button – who suffered three breakdowns in four sessions and missed the race due to a recurring electrical problem – brought McLaren back down to earth last weekend, making the work that it must do ahead of the race in Barcelona clear.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images
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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.