Three-stop strategy made no sense to Ricciardo, calls it ‘hard to take’

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Daniel Ricciardo was downbeat after Red Bull’s decision to switch him to a three-stop strategy cost him the chance to win Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Ricciardo led the early part of the race after Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg took each other out on the first lap.

However, the Australian was moved onto a three-stop strategy in the middle stint of the race, costing him the lead and leaving him to make up a number of positions in the closing stages.

The decision left Ricciardo toiling to pass Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for third in the final few laps before suffering a puncture that resigned him to fourth at the flag.

Meanwhile, Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen claimed his first Formula 1 victory on a two-stop strategy, becoming the youngest winner in the history of the sport.

Speaking to NBCSN after the race, Ricciardo admitted that he did not agree with Red Bull’s decision to three-stop him, saying it made little sense to do so when leading.

“If you’re in the group, try three stops,” Ricciardo said.

“But to three-stop from the lead and put yourself behind cars on a track that’s tough to overtake at doesn’t make much sense.

“We were controlling the lead. We weren’t as quick as I would have liked, but to throw yourself back is a hard one to take and doesn’t really add up.”

When asked if he was sacrificed to allow Verstappen to win, Ricciardo said: “No, in terms of that stuff, no. It worked out as it worked out.

“The leader should normally get the better strategy. Three stop wasn’t fine. I’m not even on the podium. Even without puncture we weren’t on the podium.”

Ricciardo tried a number of opportunistic moves on Vettel in the closing stages, causing the German to complain to his Ferrari team over the radio at one point.

“Seb was slower than me,” Ricciardo said. “I got close and nearly pulled it off.

“Seb said I was too aggressive… I’m not sure what he wants.”

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.”