Hamilton, Grosjean doubt new F1 qualifying format will change much

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Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean both doubt that the new format for Formula 1 qualifying will change a great deal.

Earlier this week, the F1 Commission unanimously voted in favor of a new format for qualifying that will see one driver be eliminated every 90 seconds within the existing three-stage structure of the session.

The initial reaction has been mixed, with some criticizing it for its complicated nature while others praise it for encouraging drivers to be on-track, resulting in more for fans to see.

When asked about the changes, set to come into force for the 2016 season, Hamilton said he doubts it will make much difference.

“I don’t really feel like it’s going to change much to be honest. I hope it’s a surprise for us all, I hope it does,” Hamilton said.

“Generally the format should be the same, just put some more focus on getting the laps in, keeping people out, making sure everyone’s out all the time. It would be good for spectators maybe.”

Grosjean echoed Hamilton’s thoughts, believing that the only impact it will have is on a drying track after rain.

“For the top teams it won’t change anything, they just need to go out early and do a good time. For the other ones its going to be a bit tricky,” Grosjean said.

“I think it’s quite a good idea to get cars early in qualifying on track, after that I don’t think it’s going to change a lot unless it’s a drying qualifying. Then it will be a bit more tricky.

“I’m not a huge fan of complicated rules because I think for the people back home it’s quite hard to understand exactly what’s going on. Then I want the car to be out on track, I want us to have more chances to do qualifying laps.

“It’s probably going to be a bit tricky to manage the tire allocation in qualifying because you need to be out early, and then there is track evolution, but why not.”

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.”