Kobayashi cleared by stewards after crash with Massa

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Kamui Kobayashi has been cleared of any wrong-doing by the stewards following a large accident at the beginning of today’s Australian Grand Prix.

The Japanese driver, who was making his F1 comeback after a year out of the sport, started from an excellent 14th on the grid for Caterham. However, his race lasted a matter of seconds after crashing into the Williams of Felipe Massa at the first corner and ending both of their races.

Massa was furious about the incident, comparing it to Romain Grosjean’s accident at the beginning of the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix that saw the Frenchman receive a one race ban. Massa suggested to British TV that Kobayashi should receive a similar penalty, and the stewards confirmed that they would be investigating the incident after the race.

However, it transpired that Kobayashi had suffered a brake failure, meaning that he could not stop the car in time to avoid Massa. The stewards accepted this explanation from the team, and cleared him of any wrong-doing in the incident.

“That isn’t how I wanted my first race back to go, and I’m sorry for the team and for Felipe that both our races ended early,” Kobayashi said after the race. “I had a really good start but then into turn one I made contact with Felipe.

“From the initial data it looked like I had a brake system issue which obviously meant I couldn’t do much about the contact and when we got the car back and looked at the information in much more detail it was clear that was the problem.

“After the race I went to the Stewards and they went through the data from the car and confirmed this was the case. We’ll have a close look at what caused that problem and make sure we fix it.”

Kobayashi will be hoping to bounce back from this setback at the Malaysian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

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.