Verstappen: Late defence from Rosberg ‘the hardest 10 laps of my life’

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Max Verstappen called his late defence of fourth place from Nico Rosberg in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix “the hardest 10 laps of my life”.

Verstappen ran fourth heading into the final few laps at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but came under increasing pressure from Rosberg, who was on a fresher set of tires.

Rosberg tried time and time again to pass Verstappen, but was hindered by a fuel shortage caused by his charge through the field after losing places at the start.

Rosberg dropped back before trying one final pass on Verstappen with two laps to go, only to spin at the final chicane, easing the pressure on the Red Bull driver.

“We did what we could today and that was a great job,” Verstappen said.

“We wanted to finish on the podium in front of the Williams but soon realised we were suffering with a bit too much tire degradation. I think a little bit of rain could have helped us today.

“At the beginning I saved my tires and fuel as I knew I could not stay with the front two. When Daniel [Ricciardo] got close behind I then decided it was time to push.

“I am very satisfied with my performance but also with the new power unit, you could see it was hard for the Mercedes to try and pass on the long straight so we are making good progress.

“The last 10 laps I really enjoyed, I would actually say they were the hardest 10 laps of my life. I was in fourth for a very long time so didn’t want to give up that position.

“It was a very hard battle at the end of the race, his [Rosberg] pace was very strong but we managed to keep ahead and then the last lap was pretty spectacular.”

Verstappen felt pleased to bounce back from a difficult Monaco Grand Prix weekend that saw him crash out three times.

“After Monaco it’s nice to leave this race with a big smile on my face,” he said.

“Now looking ahead to Baku it’s a new experience for everyone so we have to wait and see how the grip levels are but today was definitely positive for us.”

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.