Hamilton: Mercedes in ‘decent position’ after strong Friday practice

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Lewis Hamilton feels Mercedes is in a “decent position” after sweeping to one-two finishes in both Formula 1 practice sessions on Friday at Interlagos ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Two weeks on from clinching his fourth F1 title in Mexico, Hamilton showed few signs of easing off at the front of the F1 pack as he topped the timesheets in both FP1 and FP2 in Brazil, laying down a new track record in the process.

Mercedes finished comfortably clear of rival teams Red Bull and Ferrari in both sessions, and while Hamilton is pleased with how his Friday went, the Briton remains wary of the threat that could arrive later in the weekend.

“It’s been a good day. It was pretty exciting to come to the track with the cars being so much faster this year,” Hamilton said.

“It’s physically more demanding than before which is great and it’s obviously quite warm out there today.

“We got through the long runs and the short runs; unfortunately, the tires don’t really last very long, so you only get one or two laps on the short runs.

“Overall, we got through what we needed to do. We’re in a decent position but I think it could be quite close.”

Teammate Valtteri Bottas took second in both sessions for Mercedes, finishing four-hundredths of a second behind Hamilton in FP2, but the Finn is confident that more time can be found.

“I think it was a positive day for us,” Bottas said. “Initially in Practice 1 we did some aero tests, looking at some things we can improve for next year. We now have some data to analyze from that.

“Otherwise, I think both the short runs and the long runs in both sessions looked positive for us as a team, so we have a good starting point for the weekend.

“Still, we were a little bit struggling to get the set-up right for each corner of the circuit. However, I was really enjoying this track and I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

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.