Hartley keeps Toro Rosso F1 seat for Mexico, Kvyat dropped again

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Brendon Hartley will remain with Scuderia Toro Rosso for this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix after a solid Formula 1 debut in Austin on Sunday, with Daniil Kvyat being dropped once again.

Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to race in the United States Grand Prix after Pierre Gasly was ruled out due to a clash with Super Formula at Suzuka.

Kvyat returned after two races on the bench following Carlos Sainz Jr.’s move up to Renault, taking P10, with neither driver being clear on what future plans were for the final three races of the season.

In a short release on Monday, Toro Rosso confirmed that Gasly would return to his seat for Mexico, with Hartley being retained.

Hartley finished 13th on debut for Toro Rosso in his maiden single-seater race for over five years, having only driven the team’s STR12 F1 car for the first time in Friday practice.

The New Zealander is free to race in all of the remaining three grands prix this season due to the lack of clashes with his FIA World Endurance Championship commitments with Porsche.

Were he to finish the year with Toro Rosso, though, it would form a seven-week run of consecutive races for Hartley between F1 and WEC.

The team is unable to field any new drivers this year after already hitting the season limit of four, with Kvyat originally being planned to see out the year with Gasly before the Super Formula issue arose.

Hartley’s presence adds momentum to him being in contention for a 2018 F1 seat with the team, while Kvyat’s latest demotion could mark the end of his time under Red Bull’s umbrella.

The Russian called his weekend in Austin “perfect” as he took one point for P10 following two races out and missing FP1, but it was not enough to convince Toro Rosso to keep him in the seat for Mexico.

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.”