Mercedes will have “gained tremendously” from test

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Mercedes’ clandestine test for Pirelli ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix gave them a significant opportunity to advance their development programme for the W04.

That’s the view of former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley, who explained to F1 Fanatic how the team could have used the test for F1’s official tire supplier to make gains with their car.

The FIA have indicated they were not aware the test had taken place, meaning they would not have sent a representative to monitor what Mercedes were doing at the test.

“They’ve got an open book to put on whatever sensors, whatever testing and development equipment they want on it,” said Priestley, who has over a decade of F1 experience.

Priestley added the test gave Mercedes a chance to increase the mileage on new components so they could be ‘signed off’ and used at a race weekend at an earlier date.

“They’ve had some issues with the hydraulic suspension they’ve got so just getting track time on those things will also have been an enormous help,” Priestley noted.

As Mercedes used their race drivers at the test they will also have been able to examine how changing their driving style alters the performance of the tires – especially as they had three days of data from the recent race weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya to compare it to.

“It’s such a rare thing to be able to have that chance,” said Priestley. “I think they will have gained tremendously from that, from a driver point of view.”

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.