Jean-Eric Vergne hit with 10-place grid penalty in Japan

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Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne has been hit with a 10-place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix after the team was forced to change the internal combustion engine on his car following qualifying at Suzuka today.

The Frenchman has endured a difficult weekend in Japan, being hit with four separate problems across the course of practice on Friday and Saturday. However, he managed to rally in qualifying to finish 11th ahead of teammate Daniil Kvyat, but will start down in 21st position because of his penalty.

“I’m really satisfied with my qualifying today, especially considering how the weekend had gone so far for me,” Vergne said. “I didn’t drive FP1, I had two technical issues in FP2 which shortened my running time, I could complete only three laps in FP3 this morning.

“However, the team was able to set up the car in time for qualifying and I managed to do my job well this afternoon on a difficult track like Suzuka. It’s an extremely good job from the whole team, something to be pleased about. The race is tomorrow and anything can happen, even starting from the back of the grid.”

Teams are only allowed to use five ICE units across the course of the 2014 season, as per the new regulations for this year. Vergne is not the first driver to fall foul of this penalty, with teammate Daniil Kvyat dropping down the grid at Monza. Pastor Maldonado has met a similar fate this weekend, meaning that he will start behind Vergne in 22nd place on Sunday.

In a crazy day for the 2015 F1 driver market, Vergne appears to have been marginalised once again. Sebastian Vettel’s decision to leave Red Bull appeared to open up a seat at the team that rejected Vergne last season, only for it to elect to promote Kvyat after just once season of racing – a season in which Vergne has outscored Kvyat, too.

Vettel may have sparked a shake-up of the driver market, but Vergne’s outlook is just as bleak as it was before.

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.