Chester confident Lotus can compete with Red Bull

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Lotus F1 Team technical director Nick Chester is confident that the team can compete with former world champions Red Bull at next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix thanks to a significant upgrade package for the E23 Hybrid car.

After enduring a miserable 2014 season, Lotus has bounced back at the start of 2015, scoring 12 points in the first four races and regularly running inside the top ten.

In contrast, Red Bull has struggled with its Renault power unit, recording a best finish of sixth place in the first four races of the year to mark its worst start to a season since 2008.

Looking ahead to next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, Chester spoke about the fine margins between the midfield runners in F1 at the moment, and expressed his confidence in Lotus’ ability to race with Red Bull.

“It’s pretty competitive in the midfield and fighting to be at the head of the chasing pack,” Chester said. “Mercedes are still the team to beat this season although Ferrari is giving them a chase at the moment.

“There is a fairly big gap to Willliams who are followed by Red Bull and us – there is a smaller gap there and we can race them.”

Deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi said earlier this week that Lotus would be bringing updates to Barcelona that would “open some eyes”, and Chester echoed these comments.

“It will be an interesting weekend as many teams will bring decent upgrades to the first European race of the season and we are working on bringing a reasonably significant package in terms of bodywork upgrades ourselves,” Chester said.

“There’s a certain amount of anticipation to see what everyone turns up with. In terms of our expectations, there’s nothing to say that we shouldn’t have another strong race in Barcelona, just as we did in China and Bahrain.”

The Spanish Grand Prix is live on NBCSN on May 10.

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.”