Concept 18-inch F1 tires prove challenging at Silverstone

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Lotus test driver Charles Pic has called Pirelli’s concept 18-inch rim F1 tires “a challenge” as they enjoyed their first run during the post-British GP test earlier this week.

Pirelli confirmed over the race weekend at Silverstone that it would be piloting the tires on Wednesday in an attempt to make Formula 1 more road relevant. 18-inch rims are common in other racing series, but F1 tires have rims some five inches smaller.

Pic put in 14 laps for Lotus using the tires, and did not understate the challenge that they posed during this initial run.

“I think if we go one day to this type of tire it will be a big challenge,” Pic explained. “First for the team because they will have to build a completely new car around this because the philosophy is completely different and you would need to build all the car around this type of tire. I think it will also be a challenge for the driver because they are completely different.

“On the looks side it’s looking for sure different, so I think some people will like them and some people not.”

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery was pleased with how the tires looked on the Lotus, and felt that the first test had been a successful one.

“In our view, the new tires looked stunning fitted to the Lotus, and the reaction has already been felt all over the world,” Hembery explained. “These are just a prototype concept, but if the teams decided that they wanted us to proceed in this direction, we have the capability to carry on development in this area and come up with a production-ready version in a comparatively short space of time.

“We’ve heard a lot of opinions already and we look forward to canvassing other opinions in the coming weeks and months.”

The tires could be introduced as early as 2016, but the change would require unanimous approval from the teams to be ratified and given the green light.

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.