Maldonado delighted to score first points of the season

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Pastor Maldonado had every reason to celebrate following the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday after scoring his long-awaited first points of the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Maldonado had been running inside the top ten on a number of occasions in the opening six races, only for technical problems on the car to resign him to five retirements and one 15th-place finish.

After qualifying sixth on Saturday, the Venezuelan driver pinned his hopes on a trouble-free race so that he could bid for his first points of the year.

Lotus opted to put Maldonado on an aggressive strategy, switching him from the super-soft to the soft tires on lap 17 in a bid to get him past Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Although his 53-lap old tires at the end of the race caused him to fall behind Felipe Massa in the battle for sixth, Maldonado crossed the line in seventh place to pick up six points and end his pointless drought.

“Finally, here we are in the points!” Maldonado said after the race. “I think now we’ve started scoring there’s potential for this to be a great season for us as we have really good pace.

“It was a good race. We had to pit quite early to gain the place against Nico Hulkenberg which made the later part of the race quite tricky and I couldn’t defend later on as a consequence.

“I’m pleased for the team that we got both cars in the points; let’s continue like this.”

Teammate Romain Grosjean bounced back from a puncture and a time penalty to finish the race in tenth place for Lotus, marking the team’s first double points score of the season.

“It was a happy day for us,” deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi said. “Pastor scored his first points of the season after driving a strong and measured race and Romain was in the points too even if it was in a more eventful manner.

“For Pastor this should be a turning point for his season and with thank all his supporters in Venezuela and PDVSA for their faith in us. Both cars scoring points is always our target and we want more of the same for the rest of the year.”

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.”