FIA rejects Piquet’s application to enter Pau F3 race

© Getty Images
2 Comments

Defending Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr. will not race in this weekend’s F3 race at Pau after his application was rejected by the FIA.

Piquet announced earlier this week that he would be making a surprise appearance at the prestigious Pau event, joining the Carlin team for the third round of the FIA European Formula 3 championship.

The Brazilian also expressed an interest in racing at Macau later in the year, but his hopes have been dashed for the time being after the FIA announced it had turned down his application for Pau.

In a statement issued on Thursday, FIA single seater commission president Stefano Domenicali explained that it was against the spirit of the championship as a feeder series to let Piquet enter.

“The FIA has gone to great lengths in the last 12 months to establish the championship as one of the main developmental categories on the way to Formula One, introducing measures such as a maximum number of seasons in the championship (three) for any driver, as well as not allowing an existing champion to defend their title,” the statement read.

“Under Article 4.7 of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship Sporting Regulations, ‘any driver application to participate in the Championship will be studied by the FIA and accepted or rejected at its absolute discretion’.

“With the above strategic direction in mind, believed it would contravene the spirit of the championship for the FIA to approve the application to field such a highly-credentialed and experienced driver as Nelson Piquet Jr. – the reigning FIA Formula E champion, LMP1 driver in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as 28 races in Formula One.”

“We cannot deny that we were pleased that a driver with the talent and the achievements of Nelson Piquet Jr. has expressed a desire to race in a round of the FIA F3 European Championship at a prestigious circuit such as Pau,” Domenicali said.

“However, we must keep in mind the spirit of the championship: as one of the primary steps on the ladder to F1.

“Therefore, we decided that we could not accept the application presented by Carlin.

“This season the FIA introduced new eligibility criteria with the specific intent to define the characteristics of the FIA F3 European Championship more precisely. Today’s decision is a logical consequence of these measures.”

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

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
4 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.”