Hamilton: Rosberg has been “incredibly unfortunate”

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Lewis Hamilton may have moved to within touching distance of his third world championship in Russia on Sunday, but he did spare a thought for Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg after the German saw his title hopes fall apart following a second retirement in four races.

Rosberg had hoped to cut the 48-point gap to Hamilton in Russia, and was in a strong position to do so after scoring pole position on Saturday and retaining the lead in the opening phase of the race.

However, an issue with his throttle forced him to retire from the race after just seven laps, allowing Hamilton to extend his advantage over his teammate to 73 points.

Hamilton was not immune to technical issues, though, as a problem with his rear wing prompted concern at Mercedes in the closing stages of the race. Ultimately, the Briton was able to manage the issue and cross the line to record his ninth win of the season.

“I don’t really know what was wrong with the car,” Hamilton admitted after the race. “I don’t think it was DRS but there was something happening to the rear end which was the reason that the pace started to decrease.”

Reliability was one of Mercedes’ weakest areas in 2014, but the team appeared to have resolved many of its issues earlier in 2015 after suffering zero retirements in the opening 11 rounds of the season. However, three retirements in the last four races (two for Rosberg, one for Hamilton) has blotted this record.

Speaking after his victory, Hamilton sympathized with Rosberg following his DNF and admitted that the issues were a concern for Mercedes.

“Reliability, of course, is something that we’ve focused on a huge amount over the last year and a half,” Hamilton said.

“We are struggling or having a little bit more problems with it and Nico’s been incredibly unfortunate to suffer the worst.

“I honestly don’t know what happened to his car so I can’t really comment on it but I know that we’ll be working as hard as we can to rectify it and hope that in these next races we don’t have a problem, but of course it is a concern for us.”

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing

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.”