Aussie GP organizers: New, quieter F1 cars may have breached contract

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Saturday night’s Australian Grand Prix seemingly had everythinga dominant performance from Nico Rosberg, stellar efforts from several of the sport’s young guns, and stunning defeats for some of its veteran superstars.

But it didn’t have the distinctive scream of V-8 engines, which have been jettisoned in favor of V-6 turbocharged engines for the start of Formula One’s new technological era.

The V-6 engines definitely made for a different noise around Albert Park and that’s apparently annoyed Aussie GP organizers – with one of them having gone as far to say that the quieter cars may have breached their contracts with Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Management.

In an interview with Australia’s Fairfax Radio network, Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott said that in addition, the turbo-powered machines have also robbed some of the mystique from its event.

“One aspect of it was just a little bit duller than it’s ever been before and that’s part of the mix and the chemistry that they’re going to have to get right,” Westacott said to Fairfax, as relayed by Reuters.

“[Aussie GP chairman] Ron [Walker] spoke to [Ecclestone] after the race and said the fans don’t like it in the venue…We pay for a product, we’ve got contracts in place, we are looking at those very, very seriously because we reckon there has probably been some breaches.”

Reaction to the new sound of Formula One – more of a throatier growl these days – has been mixed among team owners and fans.

During this weekend’s event broadcast, one of those team owners – Force India’s Vijay Mallya – proclaimed “the noise of Formula One has gone” on the world feed.

But three-time Formula One World Champion and current Mercedes F1 chairman Niki Lauda says that it’s pointless to rewrite the new engine rules for the sake of more decibels.

“Everyone wants to do something about it, but you can’t just change the exhaust pipe, you’d have to redevelop the whole engine and the mapping,” he said according to Autoweek.

“That’s just way too expensive. Please do not change the engines just to make a bit more noise.”

Westacott’s comments could make for more post-Grand Prix controversy Down Under, which is already high after Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified from the race after finishing second because of a fuel flow irregularity.

His Red Bull team has vowed to appeal, and team principal Christian Horner is confident of said appeal’s chances.

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.