Sebastian Vettel quickest as F1 pre-season testing ends in Barcelona

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Sebastian Vettel once again led Ferrari to the top of the timesheets in Barcelona as Formula 1 pre-season testing came to a close on Friday.

It proved to be another successful and, perhaps more importantly, trouble-free day for Vettel and Ferrari at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as he completed a mix of one-lap and race simulation runs.

Vettel’s fastest time of 1:22.852 from the morning session was enough to give him P1 at the end of the day, having posted the lap on the super-soft tire.

Vettel finished almost three-tenths of a second clear of Carlos Sainz Jr. at the head of the field as the Spaniard once again showed the progress that Toro Rosso has made over the winter.

Sainz rose to second on the ultra-soft tire to beat Felipe Massa into third place as Williams began to show more of its hand towards the end of the day on the super-soft tire.

After encountering no evident issues in the first seven days of testing, Mercedes’ bubble burst on day eight as a transmission issue caused Lewis Hamilton to come to a stop on the main straight in the morning.

Although it did not cost the Briton too many laps as the issue arose at the end of the first session, it did show that there is still a chink – even one this small – in the Mercedes’ armor. Hamilton ended the day fifth overall behind Force India’s Sergio Perez, who in turn was responsible for the only red flag of the day after stopping at Turn 11.

Nico Rosberg took over from Hamilton in the Mercedes for the afternoon, and ultimately propped up the timesheets as the team opted to focus on long runs with the German.

Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth for Red Bull ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, while Jolyon Palmer completed over 80 laps en route to eighth place for Renault. Marcus Ericsson followed in ninth for Sauber with more than 130 laps under his belt – much needed mileage for the new C35 car.

After having both of his days interrupted by car issues, Esteban Gutierrez was given an unplanned half-day in the Haas VF-16 on Friday, taking over from Romain Grosjean in the afternoon.

Grosjean finished tenth overall – just ahead of his teammate – but Gutierrez could only manage 25 laps in the afternoon session. Rio Haryanto finished behind Gutierrez in P12 for Manor.

With testing now complete, attention now turns to the first race of the season in Australia on March 20.

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.