Horner keen to see return of Procar-style series for F1 drivers

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner would like to see the sport’s new owner, Liberty Media, revive a one-make series for drivers similar to the Procar championship that ran in 1979 and 1980.

Procar saw a number of F1 drivers go head-to-head in identical BMW M1 sportscars on a number of race weekends, supporting the grand prix.

The series only lasted two years and was followed by a one-off event at the Nürburgring in 1984, but has remained a fond memory for many in F1 who relished the chance to see elite drivers be separated by nothing but their ability behind the wheel.

Following its takeover of F1 in January, Liberty is working on plans to make the sport more entertaining, and Horner thinks a Procar-style series would help make drivers more active on race weekends.

“I’d love to see drivers more active over a race weekend,” Horner told Sky Sports.

“Years ago there was the Procar series. Get them driving in a different discipline. Why not get them involved in something like that with a one-make formula? Porsche Supercup, why not put the drivers all in that?”

Horner was asked about a possible clash between manufacturers, with the likes of Ferrari and Honda perhaps unwilling to field their drivers in a rival company’s car, but the Red Bull team boss thinks a solution can be found.

“Well if you moved it around, you could have them all in Aston Martins one weekend, Ferraris the next, Hondas the next. Or find a manufacturer that’s acceptable,” Horner said.

“But I think something like that, something to see the drivers’ skill and personality. They’re pretty quiet over a grand prix weekend.

“The sessions used to be longer, there used to be Sunday morning warm-ups, they used to be a lot more active and they have a lot of time on their hands now.”

Horner favored the return of a Procar-style series over the addition of a sprint race or reverse grid event to grand prix weekends that may offer half-points for the championship.

“I hate that idea, I think grand prix racing, the grand prix is the main event on a Sunday afternoon. Anything gimmicky like that is just WWF,” Horner said.

“Let’s just create great content and have great racing on a Sunday afternoon, and get the drivers racing wheel to wheel and them be the heroes.

“Then we don’t need gimmicks like reverse grids.”

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

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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.”