McLaren planning to develop MP4-30 until Abu Dhabi

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McLaren has confirmed that it is planning to develop the Honda-powered MP4-30 car right up to the final race of the 2015 Formula 1 season as it continues to fight back from a difficult start to the year.

Since ending its engine supply deal with Mercedes at the end of 2014 and switching to Honda power units, the team has struggled with a number of technical issues on its car.

Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso may have three world titles and almost 50 grand prix wins between them, but neither driver could prevent McLaren from suffering its worst ever start to an F1 season.

However, the time difference to the front of the field has rapidly decreased in the first four races, and chief engineer Peter Prodromou believes that McLaren needed to take a step back before it could move forwards.

“Over the last couple of seasons, the team slightly lost its way aerodynamically,” Prodromou said. “It became obvious that if we’d carried on with the previous concept, there’d only be so much we could achieve.

“So we’ve begun to establish a new aerodynamic concept, and a different way of working, too. That new concept has majorly shaped where the team’s heading in the future.

“Next year’s car will be an evolution of this year’s, so we need to keep developing it right until the final race.”

Director of engineering Matt Morris said that the MP4-31 in 2016 would be an evolution of this year’s car, warranting the longer development curve for the 2015 model.

“The 2016 regulations aren’t significantly changing and we’re not going through the process of introducing a new engine, as we’ve done for the last two years,” Morris said.

“So we’ll keep developing. A lot of what we learn at the track this year will naturally evolve into next year’s car.”

Racing director Eric Boullier has no concerns about the driver line-up, though, and thinks that the experience both Alonso and Button provide is doing wonders for the McLaren-Honda project.

“The driver line-up has made a big difference,” Boullier said. “Jenson’s attitude and feedback have always been phenomenal, but this year he’s raised his game again.

“Our drivers are really committed. They’re world champions, they want to win again, they believe in the project, and they’re pushing hard. They don’t leave anything on the table in terms of performance, which is fantastic.”

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.