Vettel feels fortunate, but happy with Australian Grand Prix win

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Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who was victorious on Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, was relieved that the team’s strategy, which saw him run longer on his opening stint than those around him, most notably early race leader Lewis Hamilton, worked to perfection to vault Vettel up from third on the grid and into the lead, which he held for the entire second half of the race on his way to victory.

“It’s been the other way around a couple times, especially last year. So, I think what goes around comes around. Maybe sometimes it feels bad to wait for it, so on a day like this obviously you don’t mind,” Vettel said to Formula 1’s Will Buxton during a post-race edition of F1 Paddock Pass.

Vettel added that the Virtual Safety Car period, brought out by Haas F1’s Team’s Romain Grosjean when he stopped on course with a loose wheel, was a scenario that the team had discussed in great detail ahead of the race, and things worked out exactly as they had planned.

“Obviously, we did our homework,” Vettel quipped. “We spoke about exactly that (scenario) before the race. Obviously, you never know what happens, and that’s the proof you have to remain sharp. As soon as I saw the Virtual Safety Car I knew what to do. And we tried to do everything, and it worked. It was tight, but it worked.”

Conversely, Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton, who led early after starting on the pole, was dumbfounded that the race got away from them after a dominant display in qualifying saw him outqualify the field by over half a second.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Second placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP on the podium during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

“I am in disbelief because I did everything I was supposed to do. I came, I was prepared, I drove as well as I could, I didn’t put a foot wrong and all of the sudden I came out behind (Vettel) and I was thinking ‘What just happened?’ I’m sure the team is feeling pain right now, but we’ll regroup and I’m sure we’ll work on it,” he explained in the aforementioned F1 Paddock Pass video.

Hamilton added that, while his F1 W09 EQ Power+ is certainly quick, he expects Ferrari to be neck and neck with Mercedes all year.

They had some good pace today,” he said of Ferrari’s performance. “We’re going to other races where they’re going to potentially be…their performance is going to be a little bit higher, and there’s going to be races where our performance is a little bit higher. But, I think it’s going to be a close battle through the year.”

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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.”