Renault anticipating tough Canadian GP weekend

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Renault Sport director of operations Remi Taffin has admitted that the French engine supplier is expecting a tough Canadian Grand Prix weekend due to the power-intensive nature of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Renault’s power units have been lagging behind those of rivals Mercedes and Ferrari so far in the 2015 season, prompting Red Bull to issue a quit threat over the quality of its engines.

The Montreal circuit is perhaps where any weaknesses in engine performance will be exposed the most, raising concerns about how the Renault-powered teams will fare this weekend.

“We are realistic ahead of this race,” Taffin said. “We’ve put in a great deal of work on reliability and have improved our record in the last two races, but we know that Montreal will be tough for us performance-wise.

“Knowing that power is critical, we have to try to repeat our Monaco approach, which was to optimize each sector individually. Unlike Monaco, however, we also need to assess the right drag/downforce compromise to allow good performance in qualifying and the race.

“We are getting there, and hope we can be closer yet again in Montreal.”

Renault’s main customer team, Red Bull, scored its best result of the season in Monaco two weeks ago by finishing fourth and fifth, but may struggle to beat Williams and Ferrari at a circuit that should suit both teams well.

To make matters worse for Renault, Ferrari and Honda are reported to have used some of their development ‘tokens’ to update their engines for the race weekend in Montreal.

That said, Renault appeared to be in just as bad shape at this time last year when Daniel Ricciardo claimed a shock victory for Red Bull, suggesting that all hope may not be lost.

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.”