Lauda: Vettel’s hunger has grown at Ferrari

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Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda believes that Sebastian Vettel’s hunger has grown since joining Ferrari at the beginning of the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Vettel walked away from Red Bull at the end of 2014 to move to Ferrari, with whom he claimed three race wins in 2015 and posed the most stringent challenge to Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the front of the field.

Although Hamilton and Rosberg split the remaining 16 race wins between themselves and amassed a new record total in the constructors’ championship, the resurgence from Vettel and Ferrari has made Mercedes wary of a greater fight in 2016.

Speaking to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, Lauda said that Vettel’s hunger has grown since making the move to Ferrari, and believes that the Italian marque is set to make further improvements ahead of the 2016 season.

“Ferrari are once again Ferrari and we saw that by how they were able to close the gap,” Lauda said.

“Sebastian Vettel caused us some issues as he is fast, won and his hunger has grown.

“They are on the right path to make even further progress. Ferrari can improve in terms of design and aerodynamics, along with the power unit.”

Lauda also dismissed the idea of collusion between Ferrari and Mercedes in the engine politic stakes that recently caused F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt to join forces in a bid to reduce the power of the manufacturers.

“Let’s clear one thing: Ferrari are a rival to Mercedes, and one that we must always defeat,” Lauda said.

“We aren’t talking about an alliance. In terms of politics and on major issues there are similar interests that Honda and Renault also agree on.”

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.