Sainz: Fifth on the grid in Spain feels like pole position

1 Comment

MONTMELO – Carlos Sainz Jr. has admitted that he did not expect to qualify as high as fifth for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday, saying the result feels like a pole position.

Sainz made his Formula 1 debut at the beginning of the season in Australia, and arrived in Barcelona for his home grand prix as the leading Spanish driver in the championship.

Unlike most of the teams, Toro Rosso has not brought many upgrades to the race in Spain, but this did little to hinder Sainz in qualifying as he secured his first ever top-five grid slot.

“Well, you never expect a P5, to be honest,” Sainz said. “It is never in your plans, especially in your home grand prix and after a tough FP2 and FP3, where I was not very comfortable with the car.

“We were having a lot of small issues that all put together made me be quite out of pace and comfort. Finally we put it all together for qualifying and in Q1, run one, I already felt a completely different car.

“A well balanced car and we were there, ready to fight. Half a tenth here, half a tenth there, we were improving and in finally for Q3 I managed to put a very decent lap together.

“I am feeling, to be honest, like pole position. The same feeling.”

Sainz has made an impressive start to life in F1, qualifying inside the top ten on two occasions and matching teammate Max Verstappen for pace across the first four races.

“It feels great, exactly what I was planning and imagining before the season,” Sainz said. “It was my time now to show everyone that Red Bull was right and after these first five races.

“I finally start to feel more comfortable in Formula 1. It is still one quarter of a championship and a long way to go, but it has been a positive start.”

The Spanish Grand Prix is life on NBCSN from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023


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.