Jean Todt: 21-race season a ‘privilege’ for those in Formula 1

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BIRMINGHAM – FIA president Jean Todt sees no problem with the 21-race calendar planned for the 2016 Formula 1 season, believing it to be a “privilege” for those working in the sport.

With the return of Germany and the addition of the European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan, the 2016 season is set to be the longest in the 66-year history of F1.

Concerns have been raised over the strain it will place on the paddock, given that with testing also accounted for most will be away from home for more than half of the year’s weekends.

However, Todt believes that those who lament the additional races are short-sighted and should instead be thankful to be in the position they are.

“If you do these jobs, if you consider all that is happening around the world, every morning you wake up, you should think about how lucky you are to be able to do 20 or 21 races, treating that as a privilege,” Todt said during the Watkins Lecture at Autosport International in Birmingham, England.

“I think they are privileged, and I think it’s a bad question to complain about having a privilege. That’s my personal feeling.”

Todt spent around an hour addressing an audience in Birmingham at the annual Watkins Lecture organized by the Motorsport Safety Fund, reflecting on his motorsport career and talking about the issues facing racing today.

During the lecture, Todt also responded to claims that he is not proactive enough as president by explaining his focus on actions rather than words.

“Sometime people complain that I do not communicate enough, that I don’t speak enough,” Todt said.

“I’m not interested in communicating. I’m more interested in actually a result, so I’m communicating to get a result.”

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.”