Maldonado brushes off criticism for Ericsson clash

© Getty Images
1 Comment

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado has brushed off criticism received following his clash with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson in Brazil by saying that “rubbing’s racing”.

Maldonado and Ericsson came together during last weekend’s race at Interlagos, with the minor collision prompting Sauber to pit its driver and check for damage on his car.

The stewards handed Maldonado a five-second time penalty for the incident, but the Venezuelan driver bounced back to finish the race P10 following Felipe Massa’s exclusion.

Ericsson ailed home in 16th place, prompted Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn to tell Autosport that Maldonado was “very, very annoying”, given his reputation for on-track incidents.

Maldonado has hit back at this criticism, though, putting it down as a racing incident.

“There’s a saying that rubbing’s racing,” Maldonado said. “In Formula 1 it sometimes feels like you get penalized for every bit of contact.

“I went for a gap that was there – and we all want to see overtaking in Formula 1 – and he closed the gap whilst defending his position.

“I saw it as a racing incident, and on a corner like turn one in Brazil the driver on the outside will usually come off worse. We spoke after the race and all’s fine between us.

“I think pretty much the same would have happened if positions were reversed and he had tried the same move on me.”

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

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
2 Comments

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.”