Ecclestone: Give elimination F1 qualifying format a chance

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Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone believes that the elimination qualifying format that met widespread criticism in Australia should be given more time.

A meeting of the F1 Commission in February decided to introduce quickfire eliminations to the existing Q1/Q2/Q3 qualifying structure from the Australian Grand Prix onwards.

However, its first running was widely slated as it only worsened the issues it was intended to fix, such as not having enough cars on track or pole being decided early.

F1 team bosses met on the Sunday of the race and decided to revert back to the 2015-style qualifying as of the second race in Bahrain next weekend.

However, amid suggestions that the eliminations could be retained for Q1 and Q2 due to pressure from Williams, Force India and Pirelli, Ecclestone has also joined the call to give the new format a second chance.

“I was confused as it was the first run and all the variables couldn’t have been predicted, like how it was decided in Q3,” Ecclestone told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We can improve it. If I were to give an opinion, I would say we will continue with the format from Australia.

“I am a prudent man, and new things must be tested. The new qualifying caused a bit of shock, but maybe we can salvage the good of the format.

“I am an entrepreneur and I must sell Formula 1 to the race organizers. If fans no longer watch then I have less money to give the teams.

“I have to find the best solution and having drivers eliminated every 90 seconds could be exciting.”

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.