Johansson: Modern-day F1 drivers lack ruthless streak

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Stefan Johansson believes that the current crop of Formula 1 drivers lack the ruthless and relentless streaks that many of the sport’s former greats boasted.

Johansson raced in F1 between 1983 and 1991, sharing the grid with icons such as Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell throughout this era.

The 1980s and 1990s were notable for some explosive intra-team rivalries, particularly between Prost and Senna at McLaren, and Piquet and Mansell at Williams.

Writing in his latest blog, Johansson compared these rivalries to that of Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg over the past two years as they have gone head-to-head for the championship.

“In 2014, there was certainly a lot more hate on display between Nico and Lewis,” Johansson said. “This year it’s all sort of been a bit polite with both guys saying the other did ‘a great job.’

“When you’re that close to a teammate in terms of competitiveness and you can’t beat him any other way you’ve got to figure out something that will tip the balance. You have to try to undermine their confidence or get them off balance psychologically somehow.

“That’s what Nelson did so effectively. He was ruthless, not only with Mansell but with Senna as well, calling him all sorts of things. He didn’t care. He’d do whatever it took unsettle his rivals mentally. It sort of worked and it definitely got under their skin.

“To be a great driver you need ego and relentless drive. That’s why you don’t quite have the epic battles today that F1 used to have.

“Mansell, Senna, Prost, Piquet, Lauda, Schumacher – they were brutal, every one of them, ego-maniacs of epic proportions in their own different ways.

“You have to be like that to be at the top level. That’s missing today. You don’t feel it. [Fernando] Alonso seems to me the only one left from that era where you resort to anything to win.”

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.