Ricciardo runs on his own en route to first ’17 podium at Spain

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There seemed to be three races in one in today’s Spanish Grand Prix. There was the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel for the win, the intense midfield battle between five or six teams for the lower points, and the singular drive of Daniel Ricciardo on his own for what became his first podium of 2017.

The Australian has had an unhappy start to the season with fourth, fifth and two DNFs thus far in the opening four races. An early brake issue took him out of the race early in Sochi, the previous Grand Prix, and resigned him to being a spectator rather early on.

Today in Barcelona, Ricciardo only qualified sixth but inherited third as a result of Valtteri Bottas’ engine issue and the contact between Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen that took them out of the race.

So it was, then, that Ricciardo was more than a minute behind the top two but the only other car on the lead lap after 66 laps in Barcelona.

There was no podium “shoey” but Ricciardo was relieved to take what he could get and finally have a result of note this year.

“It feels good. We had a little bit of fortune today with Valtteri stopping. We were fourth otherwise,” Ricciardo said on the podium.

“For now, we’ll take all we can. It’s so nice to be on the podium again.”

Red Bull’s chassis seemed stronger in Spain but with Renault (badged as TAG Heuer for this team) not having an engine update for several more races at least, the power deficit is stretched over the length of a Grand Prix.

Verstappen, whose Spanish Grand Prix race defense went away on the first lap, said Red Bull has more work to do if it is to close that gap to Mercedes and Ferrari ahead of them.

“We still need to be faster. With three cars retiring from the top three teams, people end up on the podium,” Verstappen told NBCSN’s Will Buxton. “We’ll see in Monaco. We need to improve.”

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.