F1’s Lando Norris wins his debut in IndyCar iRacing Challenge at COTA

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VIRTUAL AUSTIN, Texas — Lando Norris rebounded from a midrace spin Saturday, and the Formula One driver rallied to win the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Circuit of The Americas.

The McLaren driver, who was making his debut in the series, took the lead when Felix Rosenqvist spun out of first with four laps remaining.

Norris finished 1.249 seconds ahead of Arrow McLaren SP teammate Pato O’Ward and Rosenqvist. Scott McLaughlin and Santino Ferrucci rounded out the top five.

FULL BOXSCORE: Click here to see the complete results from COTA

POSTRACE REACTION: What drivers said after the race at COTA

REUNITED IN SIM: Colton Herta and Norris have a history together

“It was not easy at all,” said Norris, who led 15 of 32 laps. “Obviously the spin was a tough race. Especially Pato closing in on new tires at the end. I didn’t think I was going back to the lead, but Will (Power) spun. That was a key to get back to P1.”

Said O’Ward, who had been training with Norris and teammates Oliver Askew and Robert Wickens this week: “Man, Lando is quick in the sim. The whole week, we were really working as a team to improve each of us. Our whole teamwork and proud we ended 1-2. I was pushing hard to get to him at the end but couldn’t quite get to him.”

Rosenqvist said he spun because “it was probably me operating above my limits trying to keep (Norris) behind me.”

Norris started on the pole position in his IndyCar iRacing Challenge debut and led the first 11 laps before pitting.

But the up and comer (who is entering his second full-time season in F1) spun midway through the race after a Lap 12 competition caution. After stopping ahead of the three-lap yellow, the Englishman was trying to make up ground on new leader Will Power just after the race went green again.

“I was swearing quite a bit but won’t repeat that now,” Norris told the IndyCar on NBC booth with a laugh about the incident. “I was really annoyed. We’ve been so strong as a team, learning about our driving between us and trying to improve. To throw it away as stupidly as I did just by trying to be a bit eager on the gas on the throttle out of the last corner, which is probably a tricky one as it comes over the crest.

“And I was annoyed because there’s so much work. Everything else went really well on a different strategy from a lot of the other guys. I feel like I threw it all away and lost the opportunity to go for the win. I had the pace and wanted to try to come back through, which is what I did with some other guys making mistakes. We managed to get back through and into the lead.”

Power seemed in command for his first victory in the series, but the Team Penske driver spun twice shortly after his pit stop. Power finished sixth.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will conclude May 2 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was announced Saturday as the “Dream” track selected for the finale.

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.