PDVSA president wants Maldonado at Lotus

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President of Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA Rafael Ramirez has said that he is working to ensure that Pastor Maldonado races for Lotus in 2014.

PDVSA has been instrumental in keeping Maldonado in Formula One, sponsoring him throughout his three-year stay at Williams. However, with the team opting to hire Felipe Massa as a teammate for Valtteri Bottas next season, and with Maldonado seemingly happy to leave, work must now be done to ensure that he stays in F1. As Ramirez explained to El Nacional, Lotus is the desired destination for Maldonado with PDVSA following him.

“There is a change in team and what we are working on is going to Lotus,” Ramirez said. “For us, the interest is Pastor Maldonado, not Williams.”

Maldonado is thought to be going head-to-head with Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg for the seat, but the German driver’s arrival appears to be dependent on a possible deal with Quantum Motorsports which is becoming less and less likely. With Lotus encountering financial problems across the course of the season, Maldonado’s backing from PDVSA is highly attractive even if the Venezuelan driver is far less talented and able than Hulkenberg, who is inexplicably still looking for a seat.

This comment from Ramirez also suggests that the on-going investigation into Venezuela’s investment in motorsport will have no effect on Maldonado, but with relations between the driver and the company appearing to sour with Williams, the Enstone-based team will have to assess the baggage that could come with signing him.

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.