MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Spanish GP

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MONTMELO – After a three-week break, the Formula 1 paddock reconvenes at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on the outskirts on the city this weekend for the Spanish Grand Prix, marking the start of the European season.

With the first four flyaways now in the books and the early pecking order shaping up, the teams will be looking to take a stride forwards with the first raft of updates on the 2015 cars this weekend, serving to spice up the battles up and down the grid.

As a result, the predictions have become slightly more difficult to make for the Spanish Grand Prix, given that the teams may be further forward or back from where they were last time out in Bahrain.

Nevertheless, here’s the verdict that the MST team is delivering ahead of the race weekend.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Ferrari’s impressive start to the season could well continue in Spain, given that a number of updates are due on the SF15-T car. That said, there appears to be little that can stop Lewis Hamilton at the moment. A fourth win in five races would make for even more ominous reading.

Surprising FinishDaniel Ricciardo. Red Bull has endured a thoroughly miserable start to the 2015 season, but this could be set to change. A raft of updates on the RB11 could allow Ricciardo and his teammate, Daniil Kvyat, to work their way further up the order and perhaps on to a level playing field with Williams.

Most to ProveMcLaren. McLaren may have a fierce new livery, but the real focus will be on the performance of the MP4-30 with its first major upgrade package. Despite making great strides so far this year, the team needs to end the rut and get on the scoreboard.

Additional Storyline to WatchForce India’s form. Given that the team enjoyed just two days of running with the new car ahead of the new season, Force India’s early season form has been mightily impressive. However, with the rest of the field now introducing a raft of updates, the team may be hit hard as it waits until Austria before making real changes to the VJM08, suggesting a backslide could be on the cards.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Mercedes dominated on the long runs here in winter testing and there’s no reason to think the domination won’t continue here in the regular season. Rosberg still hasn’t shown he can beat Hamilton in a session that counts yet this year; I don’t think that changes this weekend.

Surprising FinishFernando Alonso. McLaren Honda is certainly talking of big gains heading into the weekend and Alonso was mightily impressive getting as close as he did to points and Q3 in Bahrain. It would be both a popular and improved result if Alonso cracks the top 10 and delivers the team’s first points of the season.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. I’ll say Rosberg here more than others due to the fact this is the European season and a good spot for him to hit his stride and take the fight to his teammate. He’s won in Monaco before and a win here in Spain would do wonders for his confidence, psyche and the championship battle if he can put one over on Hamilton. I don’t see it happening, as mentioned above, but it would be good to see him exceed the expectations placed on him at the moment.

Additional Storyline to WatchBattle of the upgrades. The European season traditionally marks the start of upgrade season for all teams and manufacturers. Will any one team make a major performance jump or suffer a setback as a result?

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

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For full broadcast information on the Spanish Grand Prix, click here.

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.”