Maldonado: Hot conditions could help Lotus in Malaysia

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Pastor Maldonado believes that hot and humid conditions at next weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix could play into his hands as Lotus looks to bounce back from a difficult start to the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Following a strong showing in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, both Maldonado and Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean were forced to retire from the race after a single lap.

Maldonado had made a good start from P9 on the grid, but was spun into the wall at turn two following contact with Sauber’s Felipe Nasr.

“It was really frustrating as the car looked good all weekend,” Maldonado said. “Better even than it had looked in testing, and we had good potential with our race pace and durability. Then my race was undone in the first corners.

“There was nothing I could do as there was contact occurring behind me which then collected my car. It was difficult to look at the damage done to the car as I knew how hard all the crew in the pits and the rest of the team at Enstone had been working.”

Lotus had been poised for a strong double score, but Maldonado thinks that the extreme heat that will be experienced in Malaysia next weekend could be to his advantage as the E23 Hybrid car works better in warmer conditions.

“Certainly, everything we’ve seen so far with the E23 suggests that it should be a good all-rounder,” Maldonado explained. “Sepang can get very hot, and our car seems to like hot conditions so that could be a point in our favour.”

Since making his F1 debut back in 2011, Maldonado is yet to complete a grand prix in Malaysia. Although he was classified as a finisher in 2012, he failed to see the flag after an engine failure with two laps remaining.

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.