Santino Ferrucci says he will draw on lessons from Sebastien Bourdais in his role as de facto team leader at AJ Foyt Racing in the 2023 IndyCar season.
Foyt takes an all-changed driver line-up into the upcoming campaign, with Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen replacing Kyle Kirkwood and Dalton Kellett in what is now a two-car operation again.
Pedersen arrives as an IndyCar rookie while his new team-mate made three starts last year in engagements for four different outfits, including being put on standby for Josef Newgarden after the Team Penske driver collapsed following a crash at Iowa.
However, after two years as a part-timer and injury replacement, Ferrucci is now back in a seat of his own.
The 24-year-old says he still takes inspiration from four-time Champ Car World Series title winner Bourdais, with whom he shared the Dale Coyne Racing stable back in 2019 and also a partial 2018 campaign.
“Working with Sebastien was monumental for my career because it really showed me how to be organised with the team even though it was just a year,” he explained.
“[I am] Still really close to him, still talk to him.
“It’s one of the things where he kind of showed me how to take charge, to have to go down the correct path.
“He told me a bunch of times [that] I’ll never forget it; things I wanted to try, he said straight up, It’s never going to work.
“It looks good on paper. It’s never going to work.
“He has helped steer me out of a lot of wrongs and rabbit holes to really set me more set in my ways for IndyCar.
“Yeah, biggest thing from him was experience in how to lead a team. Like I said, I’ll carry that just about everywhere I can go.
“I’m very happy to bring it to AJ and Larry’s team [Team President Larry Foyt], see what we can do.
“It will be nice to have Benjamin as well; a young, fast rookie.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m much older than him. It will be nice to have someone like that who wants to be continued to be pushed.”
The Connecticut native will drive the #14 entry which is based in the team’s Texas workshop while Pedersen’s Indiana-based entry will carry #88 and the famous Coyote Red livery which AJ Foyt himself took to two Indianapolis 500 victories.
Meanwhile AJ Foyt Racing has released a line of ‘Santino Ferrucci Curly Hair Visors’ in its online store, featuring replica of his “lovely locks” poking out the top.
On-track IndyCar action resumes on February 2-3 with the pre-season Open Test at The Thermal Club.