Hamilton tops final Russian GP practice despite late spin

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Lewis Hamilton has closed out practice for the Russian Grand Prix as the fastest driver, finishing two-tenths of a second clear of the field at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday morning.

However, the Briton was lucky not to crash out in FP3 for the second weekend in a row after a spin at turn 17 in the final few minutes of the session.

Thanks to the luxury of the run-off area at Sochi, Hamilton managed to keep his car out of the wall and avoid giving his mechanics a major repair job ahead of qualifying. It did deny him the chance to extend his lead at the top of the timesheets, though.

Throughout the session, Hamilton laid down an impressive pace that none of his rivals could match. Championship rival Nico Rosberg finished second, 0.290 seconds down on his teammate, with Valtteri Bottas finishing third for Williams. The Finn looks set to be in the running for another podium finish this weekend.

Kevin Magnussen’s session came to an early end due to a gearbox failure. The McLaren driver was lucky not to crash, but his stoppage did bring out a red flag during the first half of the session. He is likely to take a five place grid penalty as a result.

Red Bull finally woke up after a disappointing showing on Friday, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing fourth. Sebastian Vettel continued to struggle down in 11th place, though.

Daniil Kvyat continued to impress in front of his home fans, finishing sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of qualifying later today.

At the front though, Hamilton looks set to secure pole position, but with Rosberg and Bottas in close company, it may not be such a foregone conclusion.

You can watch qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7am ET today.

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.