Gene Haas: Debut F1 points justify taking an extra year to prepare

© Haas F1 Team
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Gene Haas believes that Romain Grosjean’s charge to sixth place in his new Formula 1 team’s very first race justifies the decision to have delayed its debut until 2016.

Haas F1 Team hit the grid for the first time in Melbourne in Sunday and became the first start-up outfit since Toyota in 2002 to score points on debut.

NASCAR team co-owner Haas had the option to rush the team’s entry and get on the grid for 2015, but ultimately opted to spend another year preparing.

Haas was thankful to all involved with his F1 project, but also said that the strong pace of the team from the outset is a clear indication that taking more time was the right thing to do.

“It’s been a long time in the making to do this,” Haas told NBC Sports.

“A lot of people have contributed to it, so you have to think all the people starting with Gunther who put this all together and kept pushing me to go out and try this.

“We’ve had the Ferrari people have been excellent, they’ve helped us a lot and Dallara building the chassis. We’ve got a great sponsor, it’s all great.

“The chassis, engine, aero – they all work. That’s really important. That’s why we took the extra year to work on that. Ben in our aero department, he spent a lot of time getting the aero right.

“The car is a very stable platform. We’ve kind of known that since Barcelona. We’ve had a lot of little gremlins and technical issues and rain and so forth, but I think the fundamental chassis going to be pretty awesome this year for us.”

Haas has approached F1 very different to other new teams in recent history, opting to use as many of technical partner Ferrari’s components as possible instead of going it all alone.

Team principal Gunther Steiner explained how seeing teams such as Caterham, Marussia and HRT fail in recent years taught Haas that it had to do things differently, leading to its debut success.

“We knew just doing more of the same like the other ones did just didn’t work,” Steiner told NBC Sports.

“Three tried and didn’t achieve a lot, so we said if we do more of them, we’re not more clever than these guys, there’s a limit to how clever you can be. We said we need to find a new idea.

“Thanks to to the collaboration with Ferrari and the rules being a little bit more in favour of us that we can buy some parts, that helped.

“I would say without the help of Ferrari, we wouldn’t have achieved what we achieved today.”

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.