Abu Dhabi GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

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ABU DHABI – The 2014 Formula 1 season came to a dramatic end in Abu Dhabi today as Lewis Hamilton clinched his second world championship, capitalizing on the demise of teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg.

After making a perfect start to seize the lead at the first corner, Hamilton moved into a stable but slim lead ahead of Rosberg, whose title hopes went up in smoke when the ERS system in his engine failed, breaking his Mercedes. He would eventually finish the race in 14th place.

Hamilton didn’t have it all his own way at the front, though, as Williams’ Felipe Massa ran him close in the dying stages of the race. Ultimately though, the Briton would clinch his second world title in perfect fashion – by winning the race.

It may not have been the epic tussle out on track that we wanted, but it was an exciting finish in Abu Dhabi all the same. Arguably, the right man won the title (even Nico said so), but one thing is for sure: there is going to be one incredible party in the city tonight.

Not only did the 2014 season come to an end today, but a number of important eras in Formula 1 did. This is a race that will be remembered for years to come, much like the opening round of the year in Melbourne.

And what’s more: double points did not matter one little bit in the title fight. Conspiracy theorists, you can relax.

So for one last time in 2014, here is the Paddock Notebook from Abu Dhabi.

RACE REPORT

PADDOCK NEWS

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

What. A. Finale. No, it wasn’t the all-out fight between Lewis and Nico we so desperately wanted, but it was still a suitably dramatic and exciting end to a thrilling season. Abu Dhabi delivered a fine finish to the 2014 Formula 1 season today.

Firstly, huge congratulations to our new world champion, Lewis Hamilton. For the second time, the Briton is on top of the world, and few can say that he didn’t deserve to win it. Both he and Nico would have been worthy champions, but with 11 wins to his name, it is a convincing win. The margin of victory in the end is 67 points – an almighty win, really, given that Rosberg only finished 79 ahead of Ricciardo.

The stand-out statistic from Abu Dhabi is that Lewis Hamilton scored 193 of the possible 200 points in the final seven races of the year. It’s an unbelievable record that proves he got everything right just when it mattered.

We must send our commiserations to Nico Rosberg, though, who was a valiant championship contender in 2014. It’s gutting to see a title race ended by a technical failure, but that is the nature of motorsport. It was wonderful to see the two Mercedes drivers embrace following the race’s conclusion, with Nico congratulating Lewis on a great win and saying that the Briton deserved the title. Very gracious and humble, it has to be said, from Rosberg.

However, this does go down as a big opportunity missed for Rosberg. The last thing he will want to do is be remembered like Felipe Massa and Eddie Irvine as nearlymen for the title. He deserves another shot at being the best in the world, and 2015 should see him and Lewis fighting it out once again. If this year is anything to go by, it promises to be a thriller.

Williams enjoyed a very successful race in Abu Dhabi today, finishing second and third. Massa’s strategy was the right way to go, and although he didn’t win the race, he did come very close indeed. If the British team can make the same kind of progress over the winter as it did last year, 2015 could see the team achieve even bigger and better things.

Finishing third in the constructors’ championship is a remarkable result for Williams, especially as it was so far ahead of Ferrari in the final standings – over 100 points clear. The Prancing Horse’s season ended in disappointing fashion with Fernando Alonso finishing ninth in his final race for Ferrari ahead of Raikkonen in tenth. With just two podiums and no wins in 2014, this year will go down as one of the marque’s worst ever in F1. 2015 should provide bigger and better things with Sebastian Vettel leading the team’s charge, though.

Vettel himself was quiet today, finishing eighth after starting in the pits, and was upstaged once again by teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian driver finished in fourth place on Sunday, capping off a quite incredible first year with the team.

The end to Sauber’s season was just the same as its beginning and middle: pointless (take whichever meaning you want). The Swiss team finishes the year P10 in the constructors with zero points behind Marussia, who didn’t even turn up to the final three races and actually doesn’t exist any more.

Finally, well done to Will Stevens for finishing the race in Abu Dhabi, even if he was a lap down in 17th place. The British driver’s F1 debut was a difficult one under the circumstances that Caterham were racing, so getting to the line was a good achievement.

***

Where did 2014 go? That’s all for now though. We’ll be bringing you more features and reaction from Abu Dhabi over the next few days on MotorSportsTalk, and be sure to keep an eye out for our season reviews over the coming weeks.

Finally, on behalf of Tony, Chris, Jerry and myself, thank you for all of your support across the course of the 2014 season. It has been a pleasure to report on such a thrilling year of grand prix racing.

111 days to go until the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

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.