Button happy with McLaren improvement

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Jenson Button is pleased to have qualified in the top ten for the Malaysian Grand Prix, and he feels that McLaren has made a big step forward since Australia.

The team struggled at the last race, scoring just two points and Button expressed the need to work hard on improving the car. After qualifying in Malaysia, he told Adam Cooper how he could feel the difference in the car.

“Forgetting the wet conditions, I think we’ve improved from Australia.

“If you look through qualifying, in Q1 and Q2 on dry tires, we were more competitive. Still nowhere near the top, but we were more competitive, and we should be very happy with what we’ve achieved so far this weekend. It’s only five days after a pretty tough race for us, so we’re making progress. And that’s very positive.”

Button was joined in the final qualifying session by teammate Sergio Perez, but the team struggled to match the front runners in the rain and subsequently qualified in 8th and 10th. Despite lining up P8, Button is looking forward to the race tomorrow relying it does not rain.

“I struggled with lack of grip in high speed at the rear, lots of rear movement. Most of the time our car has been very good in the wet, but today it isn’t.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do, and we lucked in with the rain in Q2 at the end, but tomorrow we’re looking forward to the race. I wasn’t really looking forward to the race in Melbourne.”

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.