Mansell: New 2014 rules inflict “discrimination” on F1’s bigger drivers

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Your prototypical Formula One driver isn’t a particularly big person. But with F1 preparing for multiple introductions in 2014 such as new, 1.6-liter turbocharged engines, it appears that keeping light or getting lighter is going to be even more important for those that strap themselves into the cockpit.

And that’s not a good thing according to 1992 F1 World Champion and 1993 CART champion Nigel Mansell (pictured, center).

“It’s disgraceful, it’s discrimination against the medium-sized large driver,” he said to writer Brad Spurgeon in today’s edition of The New York Times.

“In years gone by, we didn’t have traction control or power steering. You had to be a strong driver and there were a lot of strong drivers. If you had this weight limit, they wouldn’t have been able to drive cars many years ago – or they would have driven with great difficulty.”

Spurgeon’s piece details the pressure that’s on the taller (and heavier) competitors in the F1 paddock to keep light and enable their cars to squeeze out that extra tenth or two on the track.

Former World Champion and current McLaren driver Jenson Button is quoted as saying that he fasts before races and only eats “limited amounts” of high-protein, no-carb food throughout the year.

The minimum weight for car and driver together in 2014 will be increased to 690 kilograms or 1,521 pounds; in 2013, the minimum was 642 kilograms (1,412 pounds). But as Spurgeon writes, the new equipment for next season is taking up much of that additional weight.

And that means you won’t be finding the taller drivers hitting up all-you-can-eat buffets in Monte Carlo, Austin, or anywhere else along the Grand Prix circuit.

The F1 life isn’t easy and these drivers accept that. But surely, it can afford them to have a cheeseburger and fries on occasion?

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.