Palmer told Lotus drive may be open for 2016 season

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Jolyon Palmer has been told by Lotus F1 Team that there may be a full-time race seat open for the 2016 season.

Palmer joined Lotus in a reserve role for 2015 after winning last year’s GP2 Series title, and has taken part in five Formula 1 practice sessions so far this season.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Palmer made clear that he was not keen on remaining in a test role for another season, and has in fact been told that there could be an opening at Lotus for 2016.

“I don’t want to be a test driver again next year,” Palmer said. “My aim is still to be racing with Lotus and that is why I am here for the year to be racing.

“I have been told there could be an opportunity so I just have to try my best and show the team why they should take me.

“There is not much more to say, I am getting some time in the car, so at least I am getting an opportunity and as far I am aware there could be a chance so I am just trying to grab it with both hands.”

The current Lotus line-up comprises of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, two former GP2 champions.

Maldonado’s place with the team has been secure for some time due to the sizeable sponsorship that he brings to Enstone courtesy of Venezuelan state oil giant PDVSA. However, team CEO Matthew Carter has said in the past that in spite of Maldonado’s backing, no driver is indispensable.

Grosjean has led Lotus’ charge following the departure of Kimi Raikkonen at the end of 2013, and was known to be on Ferrari’s ‘back-up’ list had Sebastian Vettel not joined the team for 2015.

However, his financial backing is not on a par with Maldonado’s, and should Palmer be able to bring a greater sum to the team, Grosjean’s place could be at risk for 2016.

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.”