Philippe Bianchi calls on FIA to “go further” than ‘Halo’

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Philippe Bianchi has called on the FIA to “go further” than the ‘Halo’ prototype in its bid to improve driver safety in Formula 1 and prevent serious head injuries.

Philippe’s son Jules Bianchi died last year from serious head injuries sustained in an accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix nine months earlier, where he collided with a recovery vehicle after going off track in wet conditions.

Bianchi’s death was followed by that of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was killed after being hit by debris during the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 23.

In response to these deaths, the FIA has stepped up its bid to improve driver safety in F1 by inviting teams to submit possible designs to increase cockpit protection.

The Mercedes-designed ‘Halo’ prototype made its public debut in Barcelona on Thursday, and was greeted with a mixed response after being tested on Ferrari’s SF16-H car.

Speaking to French TV station Canal +, Bianchi Sr. said that although ‘Halo’ was a definite step in the right direction, more needs to be done as he doubts it would have saved either his son or Wilson.

“I consider that this is a step forward in term of security. It is obvious that in the case of when a wheel comes off, this system would be effective,” Bianchi said.

“However, in the case of small debris, as Felipe Massa and Justin Wilson had, that wouldn’t have changed anything. So this is a step forward, but it does not solve everything.

“For Jules, it would not have changed nothing, because it’s the extremely violent deceleration that caused the damage that we know to his brain.

“I think developments of the HANS system to better absorb big deceleration in a severe impact could help in this case.

“The FIA ​​wished to act after Jules’s and Justin’s accidents, but it must go further.”

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.