MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: 2016 Bahrain GP

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Since becoming a night race in 2014, the Bahrain Grand Prix has carved itself a curious niche as being one of the most entertaining events in the early part of the season.

Nico Rosberg arrives in Bahrain on a high after winning the opening race of the season in Australia, leading home Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for a comfortable one-two finish.

It was a brilliant strategy call that won it for Mercedes Down Under, but this time around, Ferrari may pose a more serious threat after impressing early on last time out.

Here are the MST team’s picks for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerNico Rosberg. Go on then, let’s run with Rosberg again. Nico showed signs of his 2014 self in Australia with a cool, fuss-free victory. At the site of one of his most painful defeats in racing two years ago, I’m backing him to extend the winning streak to five.

Surprising FinishCarlos Sainz Jr. Having been stuck in Max Verstappen’s shadow for much of his rookie season, Sainz showed signs (or should that be sainz, hur hur hur…) in Australia that he is no longer willing to lay down for his hyped up teammate. The Toro Rosso car is solid, so I’ll back Sainz to score a top five on Sunday.

Most to ProveHaas F1 Team. Harsh? Maybe. We all loved Haas’ debut charge to the points, but the real challenge now facing the team is repeating it. Bahrain could give us a sign of what to truly expect from the American team in its first F1 season.

Additional Storyline to WatchQualifying. I worked a Fall Out Boy lyric into my race preview, and I’ll do the same here: “Sugar we’re going down swinging” – let’s hope this is the last we see of elimination qualifying.

Predict the Podium

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Going to go bold with the first non-Mercedes pick of the season. Had Ferrari got its tire choice correct at Melbourne, Vettel’s start vaulted him ahead and put him in position to win. And with Ferrari having gone for more mediums than Mercedes in Bahrain, it may aid them in terms of tire management during the race. Vettel could win it with that combo of close enough pace and better tire strategy, compared to the Mercs.

Surprising FinishMax Verstappen. After the disappointment of Melbourne, pegging the precocious teenager to bag a big result in the desert.

Most to Prove: Haas F1 Team. The follow-up act is always harder than the premiere. With the team riding the wave of momentum after its shock sixth place in Melbourne, how will Haas fare in what is more likely to be a more straightforward GP, absent a mid-race crash and safety car period? Points aren’t required again but if Haas can put together two clean races for Grosjean and Gutierrez, including standard pit stops, it’ll have been a solid second act.

Additional Storyline to Watch: Qualifying. Again. Qualifying was a debacle in Melbourne, so naturally, it’s getting a second chance encore in Bahrain. What’s the old saying about trying the same thing and expecting different results? We’ll see whether the sequel here is as bad as the debut.

Predict the Podium

1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

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.