Alonso changes helmet, Williams alters livery, other minor changes for Abu Dhabi GP

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ABU DHABI – For this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, there have been a few subtle changes made to the liveries that we will see on the grid and the helmets that the drivers will sport under the lights at Yas Marina.

In order to come into line with alcohol laws in the United Arab Emirates, Williams has made a number of alterations to its livery that remove all references to its title sponsor, Martini.

The team faced a similar predicament in Bahrain earlier this year, but simply changed the word “Martini” to “racing” on all of its logos and kept the livery the same.

However, Williams has now opted to remove all of the red stripes from its livery for Abu Dhabi, leaving just the blue lines on the car. A similar move was taken for the team’s inclusion in the official Formula 1 video game, produced by Codemasters.

Similarly, Force India has had to remove all references to vodka company Smirnoff from its livery. Following a successful drive for fresh investment, Caterham is featuring a number of new sponsors on its car this weekend including Crowdcube and its administrators, Smith and Williamson. Toro Rosso will also be running with a promotional banner for the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix on its car for the race weekend.

Following the announcement of his departure from Ferrari at the end of the season, Fernando Alonso will be running with a special helmet to mark the occasion in Abu Dhabi.

“I’ll wear a helmet with a picture of a pit stop this year on one side, the Italian flag in the middle and the signatures of everybody in the team on the other side,” the Spaniard explained. “I just told them this morning that it’s the last time that I will jump in a Ferrari.

“I want to bring all of them with me because they were a part of this fantastic experience and I want to do my last race with them on the track.”

Predictably, Sebastian Vettel will be sporting another unique helmet for tomorrow’s race, and we’ll be sure to tweet out a picture of it on the @F1onNBCSports account once we have one.

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.