Ricciardo, Red Bull top first day of F1 testing

Photo: Getty Images

Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing asserted their presence early on Day 1 of pre-season testing for the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, going to the top of the leaderboard in the morning with a lap time of 1:20.179, good enough to keep them at the top through the afternoon.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen originally held the fastest lap through the morning, but both Ricciardo and Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Valtteri Bottas jumped ahead near the end of the morning session.

Ricciardo, who also turned the most laps of the day at 105, offered the below assessment of the first day of testing.

Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. were fourth and fifth quickest for Renault Sport F1 Team, while four-time and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton turned the sixth fastest lap of the day.

Fernando Alonso rebounded from an early morning incident to end up seventh, while Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley enjoyed a solid day, the team’s first with Honda power units, to run 93 laps on his way to eighth fastest.

Of note: Nikita Mazepin piloted Sahara Force India’s VJM11 on the first day. Race drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon will sample the car later this week.

Results from Day 1 can be found here.


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.”