Vettel: F1 should listen to demand over qualifying format

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Sebastian Vettel has criticized the decision to keep the elimination Formula 1 qualifying format for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, saying that the sport is failing to cater to demand.

The addition of quickfire eliminations to the old Q1/Q2/Q3 structure in Australia proved disastrous as it only exacerbated the problems it was intended to fix, such as having too few cars on track and pole being settled early.

Team bosses provisionally decided to scrap the new format for Bahrain, only to fail to agree on a replacement when meeting with the F1 Commission, resulting in a stay of execution.

Most have been critical of the failure to revise the format, with four-time champion Vettel using an interesting analogy to express his disappointment.

“If you sell vanilla ice cream and everybody that comes to the shop asks for chocolate ice cream, the next day you open you are expected to sell chocolate ice cream,” Vettel said.

“But instead you decide to sell vanilla ice cream again.

“So, I think that usually you do what your clients would like you to do, but you’re not really doing the job, I guess, if you do exactly the opposite.”

Vettel was one of a number of drivers to sign a letter from the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association last month calling for changes to be made to F1’s governance structure.

The German driver said that although no exact demands were made for qualifying, something had to be changed.

“We the drivers didn’t give any proposals. We just made it clear that something is not right and that something has to change,” Vettel said.

“We are drivers and we are not here to make the rules but I think for some decisions it would be beneficial to listen more to the drivers and to the fans.

“You have to do what’s the best for sport at the end. We just have to find the best system.”

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.