Hamilton: F1 must change to create closer, natural racing

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Lewis Hamilton has joined the call for change in Formula 1 by stressing the importance of close, organic racing.

The sport’s technical regulations are poised to be overhauled in 2017 in a bid to improve the on-track spectacle that has been blamed for dwindling TV figures and track attendances in recent years.

In Thursday’s press conference ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, a number of drivers were asked about the push to better F1 and make the sport faster, widening the gap to support championships such as GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5.

Although Hamilton was not fully aware of the changes that were being put forward for 2017, the Briton said that something definitely needed to be altered to improve the racing in F1.

“I think it does need to change,” Hamilton said. “I’ve not really looked at the changes they’re proposing, to be honest, but it needs to be… for example, with the DRS, it doesn’t feel organic, like natural racing.

“Whatever changes they make, I want to see closer racing. Wheel to wheel racing. It needs to be like go-karting was. If, you know, go-karting, wheel to wheel and those guys following the train overtaking. We need to make Formula 1 a bit more like that somehow.

“I don’t know how they’re going to do it. It needs to be a lot different to what it was in the last 20 years.”

Hamilton’s thoughts were echoed by Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, who said that F1 needs to become faster and more exciting for fans to watch.

“F1 should be easily the fastest racing cars in the world and it doesn’t look right some races where we go and GP2s are a few seconds off,” Raikkonen said.

“[F1 cars] should be definitely faster, more like they were in the mid-2000s. I think that’s the way they plan to go and I think it’s more fun for us, it looks much more greater to the spectators.

“But also, they have to make it nicer for all the people. Everybody is complaining it’s boring, it’s this and that. If something doesn’t change nobody will care how the car looks or how fast they are.

“Something has to change, that’s for sure, for F1 to get back more interesting for everybody – but I think it’s a good way to go, make the cars faster and more exciting looking.”

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.