Ecclestone: North America ‘a bit of a s*** hole’ compared to Baku

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Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has expressed his delight over the inaugural grand prix in Baku, Azerbaijan this weekend, saying that the city makes North America seem like “a bit of a s*** hole”.

The Baku City Circuit plays host to the European Grand Prix for the first time this weekend, incorporating both the historic and modern parts of the city.

Ecclestone gave his approval to the circuit, which is set to be the fastest street course on the F1 calendar, when speaking to reporters in Baku on Thursday.

“I didn’t walk it but went around it,” Ecclestone said, as quoted by F1i.com.

“When I laid it out in the first place I was told I was mad, trying to get the old city and the new city together, but it looks like it has worked out alright.

“We just left the greatest place in the world North America, and compared to here, it is a bit of a shit hole isn’t it?”

Ecclestone also discussed concerns raised about Azerbaijan’s human rights record, saying that his conscience was “absolutely” clear.

“The minute people tell me what human rights are, you can look at how, why and when it applies. Does anyone know what human rights are?” he said.

“We listen obviously, and if people have got genuine complaints there is not a lot we can do.

“I think you get into trouble in most countries if you are anti some government or political people, or in fact anybody. So it is not quite as easy as that.”

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.