Lowe: Rosberg not out of the title fight against Hamilton

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MONTMELO – Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe believes that Nico Rosberg still has the ability to challenge for this year’s Formula 1 drivers’ championship despite failing to beat teammate Lewis Hamilton in any of the opening four races of the season.

Hamilton is currently enjoying a purple patch of form with Mercedes, winning nine of the last eleven races and claiming 286 of a possible 300 points in the same period.

In contrast, Rosberg has been unable to answer the form shown by his teammate through the same period, and currently trails Hamilton by 27 points after just four races of the 2015 season.

When asked about the difference between the two Mercedes drivers on Friday following practice, Lowe was quick to praise Hamilton, but feels that Rosberg still has enough fight to compete for this year’s world championship.

“I think Lewis is performing really at the top of his game,” Lowe said. “I’ve worked with Lewis actually throughout his F1 career and I would say at the moment he’s really at his peak – the best he’s been driving so far.

“That’s a tough prospect for any driver to compete with. Nico’s doing a great job. I was particularly pleased with how he performed in Bahrain. We let him down at the last minute, which is why he lost the second place, but you saw he did some fantastic driving, some great overtaking, which showed that he had great race craft.

“I think Nico is doing a good job. It’s just tough to beat Lewis. The season is still young and there’s plenty of prospect for a good battle between them.”

Mercedes has remained the team to beat in F1 this season, but Lowe rejected the idea of it slowing down its development driver despite bringing less upgrades to the Spanish Grand Prix than many of its rivals.

“We put in a very aggressive programme over the winter, both on the engine and on aerodynamics and other parts of the car,” he explained. “We expected a very tough season as the second iteration of this new formula, and we weren’t going to get through that without a lot of development on the performance of the car.

“I think credit to Ferrari, they’ve done a good job over the winter to make a big step to approach and even exceed our peformance from time to time, so that’s set the pace for a very tough competition through the year.”

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.