Tost: Toro Rosso to retain Verstappen, Sainz for 2016

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Franz Tost has confirmed that Toro Rosso will retain both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. for the 2016 Formula 1 season relying that the team is on the grid.

Toro Rosso’s future has been cast into doubt along with that of parent team Red Bull due to the marque’s ongoing engine saga.

Red Bull had been keen to cut ties with current supplier Renault at the end of the year due to the sub-standard power units that the French manufacturer has provided since the beginning of the V6 turbo era.

However, the team now looks poised to continue with Renault power units in 2016, albeit unbadged or running under a different brand.

Toro Rosso is set to change supplier for 2016 after Ferrari agreed to supply Red Bull’s B-team with 2015-spec power units.

Speaking on Friday in Brazil, team principal Tost said that relying Toro Rosso is on the grid, it will be keeping both Verstappen and Sainz following their impressive rookie seasons.

“If the team is on the starting grid then I consider that both of them will be the drivers of Toro Rosso, because so far they have done a very good job and of course we want to keep them,” Tost said.

When asked about Toro Rosso’s future, Tost added: “It’s not decided yet. We will see. I’m convinced, optimistic, that this will be the case.”

Earlier this week, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was forced to issue a ‘hands off’ warning to other teams following speculation about Max Verstappen’s future under the marque’s umbrella.

Verstappen, 18, is poised to finish as 2015’s top rookie, and has already been linked with a possible move away from Toro Rosso.

“I’m not going to go into details of their contractual status,” Horner is quoted as saying by BBC Sport.

“But rival teams are speaking to the wrong people if they’re talking to the driver as the driver has a contract.”

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.”