Valtteri Bottas: No special meaning to fastest Barcelona F1 test time

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Valtteri Bottas has played down his charge to the top of the timesheets in the opening Formula 1 pre-season test in Barcelona this week, saying the result has “no special meaning”.

Bottas made his first public appearance with Mercedes in Barcelona earlier this week following his winter move from Williams, replacing world champion Nico Rosberg.

Bottas chalked up the fastest time of the four-day test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with his effort of 1:19.705 from Wednesday being two-tenths of a second quicker than any other driver.

However, the Finn played down the importance of the result, with the number of miles Mercedes racked up with the new W08 EQ Power+ car being the bigger victory in his eyes.

“It does not have any special meaning because it’s only testing and there’s no reward for that,” Bottas stressed.

“We weren’t particularly focusing on lap times this week. The main priority for us was to get the mileage, find any issues with the car, if there was anything to come from that side, because we’d rather have them here than in the races.

“For me it was important to get the mileage, so I was pretty happy we could manage plenty of running and, at the same time, go through the test program of the team.

“I think, overall, it was a very good week and I learned a lot. I got plenty of laps, so the times for me and for the team, they are what they are. Maybe next week we can do a little bit of an analysis of where we are, but what matters is what people will take to Melbourne.”

Having spent all of his F1 career prior to the move to Mercedes with Williams, Bottas admitted that he is still adjusting to life with the defending champion team, but is growing in comfort at Brackley.

“I definitively feel more comfortable and more part of the team every day, I already feel good,” Bottas said.

“For example, getting in this morning and having breakfast here it already felt normal, so that’s a good feeling.

“But there’s definitively a big difference compared to last week, because this was the first proper time of working as unit, as a team, on track, with the engineers, finding performance, and I learned very much from it every day.

“I still think there’s work to do, as changing teams is maybe a slightly bigger thing than I initially thought it would be. But it’s not a hurdle than you cannot go over.

“I think it’s definitely something that I can do and I’ve been working flat out since the announcement to get comfortable with everything.”

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.”