Vettel: Ferrari can be pleased with third in Japan

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Sebastian Vettel was pleased to finish Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix in third place as he maintained his 100% podium record at Suzuka.

Since first racing at the iconic track in 2009, Vettel has never failed to reach the podium, claiming four victories during his time with Red Bull.

The German driver arrived in Japan with his tail up after winning last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, but was unable to replicate this pace during Sunday’s race, finishing third after being passed by a recovering Nico Rosberg in the final stint.

“It’s great to be back on the podium here, it’s, I think, my favourite race; I love the track, I love the fans, I love the trophies,” Vettel said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get the bigger one today.

“It was close with Nico. I think we had a chance but it’s always easy with hindsight. Overall, I think it was a fantastic race. The start was very tricky and it was interesting to see those two fighting in the first corner – obviously I could benefit – but, yeah, all in all, very happy with the race today.”

Rosberg dropped behind Vettel after being squeezed out by Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton at the first corner. However, an early final pit stop gave Rosberg the undercut, allowing him to pass Vettel for P2 late on.

“Had we pitted one lap sooner I think it could have been more interesting and challenging for Nico to get past,” Vettel reflected.

“It’s not so easy to follow the cars here through the high-speed sections, so I think we had a good chance but, yeah, probably underestimated the out-lap that he had, so, with hindsight, it’s always easy.

“Nevertheless, it’s a great day. Good recovery. Especially as Friday wasn’t that good for us. I know it was wet but still, the feeling we go was not that great. Saturday morning as well. So, yeah, good qualifying and obviously that was the base for another podium today.”

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.