Renault to hire 180 new F1 staff over next 18 months

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Renault will add 180 staff to its Formula 1 team over the next 18 months as it looks to rebuild following the takeover of Lotus at the end of last year.

Renault’s board approved the buyout of the financially-ailing Lotus team in December, marking the French manufacturer’s works return to F1 after six years away.

Staffing cuts made by Lotus reduced the team size at Enstone before Renault’s takeover was confirmed, leaving the new bosses to undertake a big recruitment drive.

Newly-appointed chief technical officer Bob Bell confirmed that Renault is looking to hire 180 new staff over the next 18 months at Enstone.

“We are in the process of re-resourcing Enstone and part of the road map is to be clear how we build up the resources over a two year timeframe,” Bell said.

“The head count is around 470 now and needs to be close to 650 in the long term, but it will take us up to 18 months to do it.

“At Viry it is less about resourcing and more about restructuring to make it mesh with Enstone and fit for purpose in the coming years.

“In parallel we need to think about the design of the car and consider our priorities. We need to ascertain where we will find most gains for 2017 but also look forward to 2018.

“It’s a reasonably protracted process to get to where we need to get, but we still need to show good progress and move forward in all areas in the meantime.”

Bell returned to Enstone for 2016 after six years away, having worked with Mercedes and Manor in the meantime. However, he has had no issues getting back in the swing of things with Renault.

“It’s been a relatively easy transition. I knew a lot of the people and the organizations so it has been quite straightforward,” Bell said.

“We have a mountain of work ahead of us so I am not under any illusions, but initially it’s been highly positive.”

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

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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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.”