Fernando Alonso’s new McLaren loses wheel to start F1 testing

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MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Fernando Alonso made an inauspicious start to the Formula One season on Monday, going off the track after losing a wheel on his new McLaren on the first day of testing.

Alonso was about to complete his seventh lap when the rear wheel on the right side came off, sending him into the gravel on the final turn at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The session was stopped for a few minutes while a crew hauled the damaged McLaren onto a flatbed truck and drove it back to the pit lane.

The two-time world champion finished 15th in the drivers’ standings last year after earning points in only five of the 20 races.

McLaren is hoping to rebound this year after changing to Renaut engines following three problem-plagued campaigns with Honda.

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton is scheduled to drive for Mercedes in the afternoon after Valtteri Bottas gets his opportunity behind the wheel.

Force India, Toro Rosso and Haas unveiled their new cars shortly before testing started near Barcelona.

Testing runs until Thursday. A second four-day session will be held from March 6-9.

The season-opening Australian GP is on March 25.

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.