Vettel: Ferrari chief’s criticisms of F1 driver errors ‘fair enough’

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Sebastian Vettel believes that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne’s comments about driver errors playing a role in costing the Italian marque in the Formula 1 championship races are “fair enough”, having seen his title hopes end two weeks ago in Mexico.

Vettel led the F1 drivers’ championship from the opening race until the Italian Grand Prix in September, with a collapse over the trio of Asian races that followed to deal a heavy blow to his hopes of a fifth world title.

Lewis Hamilton was confirmed as 2017 world champion at the last race in Mexico, wrapping up what was tipped to be a close-fought championship with two races to spare, much to Marchionne’s disappointment.

The Ferrari chairman blamed its defeat in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships on a mix of reliability issues and driver errors, appearing to hint at Vettel’s on-track clashes in Baku and Singapore.

When asked about Marchionne’s comments, Vettel told the official F1 website: “I think what he said is fair enough.

“Of course you would do things differently – otherwise you wouldn’t learn from mistakes.

“I think we all agree that we didn’t have the season that we could have had – or should have had – for obvious reasons.”

Despite his title defeat being confirmed, Vettel is relishing the chance to strike back and end his winless drought dating back to the Hungarian Grand Prix in July.

“The moment you get into the car the musing about the ifs and buts of the past 18 races stops abruptly and you focus again only on the driving,” Vettel said.

“That is why I am really looking forward to these last two races.

“Maybe losing out is a bit easier to come to terms with when there are still two races to go than losing at the very last race, and having to go home with a defeat.”

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.”