Raikkonen’s withdrawal could hand Valsecchi F1 debut

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Davide Valsecchi is poised to make his grand prix debut in the United States next weekend following the announcement from Kimi Raikkonen’s manager that the Finn would not be racing in the final two rounds of the 2013 Formula One season.

Raikkonen has taken the decision to undergo back surgery ahead of his move to Ferrari in 2014, and will miss the races in Austin and Interlagos as a result thus bringing an early end to his time at Lotus.

Former GP2 champion Valsecchi – who has worked as Lotus’ reserve driver throughout the 2013 season – could be poised to step up and replace the Finn for the final two rounds, handing him an opportunity to prove his worth to the rest of the F1 world as he continues to search for a full-time seat in the sport.

Should Lotus choose to look elsewhere, a number of drivers could fit the bill. Nico Hulkenberg is known to be unsettled at Sauber and looking to move to Lotus for 2014, so the team could secure the German’s services for the final two rounds of the season and coincide it with an early announcement should they be in a position to do so. Other less likely options include Ferrari test driver and regular ‘stand-in’ Pedro de la Rosa, newly-crowned GP2 champion Fabio Leimer and McLaren junior Kevin Magnussen.

However, Valsecchi is the obvious and most logical choice for Lotus as a replacement for Raikkonen as their reserve driver, and it would also provide a great opportunity for another talented youngster to impress and prove himself in Formula One.

The Italian driver has made clear on a number of occasions that he believes that he is ready to step up to a full-time seat, and although Raikkonen is set to leave Ferrari, Valsecchi has not been a leading contender for the vacant seat. However, a good showing at the Circuit of the Americas next weekend could put him back in the running alongside Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado.

Lotus are yet to official confirm who will deputize for Raikkonen in the final two rounds of the season.

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.