Sochi Autodrom names grandstand after Vitaly Petrov

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The Sochi Autodrom has named its Turn 2 grandstand after Russia’s first Formula 1 driver, Vitaly Petrov, ahead of this year’s grand prix.

Petrov made his F1 debut in 2010 with Renault before scoring his first podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix in 2011, with the team rebranded as Lotus.

Petrov joined Caterham for 2012 but failed to score any points, and was dropped by the team for 2013 when it opted to sign Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

The Russian then moved into DTM and has since found a home in sportscars, racing for SMP Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship last year.

Petrov has now been honored by the Sochi circuit, which is set to host its fourth F1 race on April 30, with the Turn 2 grandstand set to bear his name.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the organizers of the 2017 Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix for the honor and respect shown to me. This is a really significant event in my life!” Petrov said.

“I’m sure that the grandstand named after me will always be packed, because it is located in one of the most exciting places of the track, where at the end of a straight the cars accelerate to 339 km/h, and all 20 drivers attack each other at the entry of the second right-hand corner.

“Throughout the race, we will also see some amazing overtakes! Once again, thank you to all my fans, as well as Formula 1 fans.”

Petrov is the second driver to have a grandstand named after him in Sochi, the first being Daniil Kvyat, who was the first Russian F1 racer to compete on home soil at the 2014 event.

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

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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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.”