Rosberg pleased to lead Mercedes’ fightback at Suzuka

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Nico Rosberg was pleased to have led Mercedes’ comeback at Suzuka as he banished the team’s Singapore struggles to claim his second pole position for the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Rosberg edged out teammate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.076 seconds in the final stage of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday as Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid.

The result marked a turnaround in fortunes following the Singapore Grand Prix seven days ago where Hamilton and Rosberg could only qualify fifth and sixth respectively, lagging behind Ferrari and Red Bull.

Valtteri Bottas finished as the best of the rest for Williams at Suzuka on Saturday, four-tenths of a second down on Rosberg’s time, giving the German a boost heading into the race on Sunday.

“First of all, very happy. Great day today,” Rosberg said after qualifying. “A good comeback also for the team. It’s fantastic after such a difficult weekend in Singapore, to be back to our usual strength today, strong performance today from the team, great car, so very thankful for that.

“Really turned things around, optimized everything for this track, and for me, I pretty much nailed my laps today so really pleased with the way it went. A great position to be in for tomorrow.”

The drivers entered qualifying at Suzuka having completed just one hour’s worth of dry running after practice after FP1 and FP2 on Friday were washed out by rain.

Nevertheless, Rosberg feels confident about his chances in tomorrow’s race as he bids to cut the gap to Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ championship.

“Well I’m confident that the car is going to be good, but as for everybody, we didn’t have the perfect preparation,” Rosberg said.

“So there might be a few surprises tomorrow, but I’m confident that I found a good balance. I did do some high fuel running this morning and the balance was good, so we should be fine.”

The Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 12:30am ET on Sunday.

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.