Raikkonen’s day at Barcelona; tops timesheets, debuts ‘Halo’ device

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The man who frequently says the least about the race series he competes in will be the trigger for more words than normal for a simple test session.

Scudeira Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen led the timesheets on the second-to-last day of preseason testing, with a 1:22.785 the best time of the day on Pirelli’s purple ultrasoft compounds. He also ran a race simulation as well during the afternoon period.

Ultrasoft laps produced three of the best four times on the day, with Nico Hulkenberg (Force India, 1:23.251) and Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso, 1:23.382) in third and fourth. Felipe Massa of Williams turned in the best time of the day on soft compounds, a 1:23.193 that was good enough for second.

But arguably, the more important headline of the day also involved Raikkonen, as he was the first driver to publicly debut the new halo device, a form of additional cockpit head protection which could be on its way to the sport in the future.

Raikkonen, who in classic concise form called the device “OK,” ran the device in the morning and it remains to be seen whether teammate Sebastian Vettel will also run with the device for the fourth and final day of running on this week’s test, and last of the preseason. Vettel has stated his interest for some form of increased cockpit protection in the past.

The session ended a few minutes early due to Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean being stranded on course at Turn 10.

Seven drivers posted more than 100 laps on the day, with Verstappen topping them all at 159 laps completed. Hulkenberg (137) and Raikkonen (136) were also particularly busy.

In his second day of running in the Sauber C35, Felipe Nasr clocked another 100-plus lap day with 116 laps in the books. Meanwhile Fernando Alonso nailed down 118 on the day in the McLaren MP4-31 Honda.

Pascal Wehrlein posted a respectable 1:24.913 on ultrasofts for Manor MRT in 48 laps, which was good for eighth on the day.

Grosjean’s late issue aside, he completed 78 laps in what was the VF-16’s busiest day of running this week after the nagging turbo issues that have sidelined the car most of Tuesday and Wednesday.

Times are below:

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.