Verstappen: Maybe Massa feels threatened by young drivers

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Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen has once again defended himself over his crash at the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago after facing criticism from Felipe Massa over the incident.

Verstappen crashed into the back of Romain Grosjean with 15 laps to go in Monaco when chasing the Lotus driver for tenth place, resulting in a large shunt into the wall at Sainte Devote.

Although the 17-year-old was physically unharmed, he was handed a five-place grid penalty for this weekend’s race in Canada and faced a good deal of criticism from his peers.

One such figure was Williams’ Felipe Massa, who made his thoughts clear in the pre-race press conference on Thursday.

“I think, especially when you’re in your first year, 17-years old and if you do something like that and you’re not penalized, it’s completely wrong,” Massa said.

“I think the FIA needs to be strong in a proper way which is what they did actually, that’s the only thing I said and I don’t change my mind. That’s what I believe. We need to follow the rules. I said what he did was wrong. That’s what I said.”

Speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton in the Canadian GP edition of Paddock Pass, Verstappen suggested that Massa perhaps felt threatened by his relative youth.

“I think he has to see the data first before he can speak,” the Dutchman said.

“But maybe he feels pressure from younger people. Maybe he wants to extend his career by one more year.”

When asked by NBCSN’s Leigh Diffey if he would do anything differently if he faced the same situation again, Verstappen remained certain that he would not change a great deal.

“Not much,” Verstappen said. “I was attacking, I wanted those points, especially after the pit stop we had.

“I don’t know. Maybe turn a bit earlier to the right, try to avoid it a bit more and maybe try to do it another lap again. I don’t think there were so many things I had to do differently, up until then.”

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

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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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.