Alonso, Button frustrated as red flag ends Q3 hopes in China

0 Comments

McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were both left frustrated following qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix as a red flag at the end of Q2 denied them a possible top 10 starting position.

McLaren and engine supplier Honda have made significant progress over the winter, giving Button and the returning Alonso plenty of confidence heading to China this weekend.

Both showed good pace throughout practice and the early part of qualifying, but a red flag caused by Nico Hulkenberg at the end of Q2 meant they were unable to improve their lap times late on.

As a result, Alonso qualified 12th ahead of Button in 13th, leaving both frustrated to have missed out on a place in Q3.

“I think both Jenson and I could have got through to Q3 today,” Alonso said.

“We had the pace, and we had been saving tires and engine ready to go for it… until the red flag ended the session. It was massively frustrating not to be able to complete my final lap in Q2. There really was a lot of potential in the car today.

“Let’s put it into further perspective: not too many races ago, we were just making it into Q2, now we’re frustrated not to be in Q3. That’s definitely a good direction in which to be heading.”

Button joked that the much-criticized elimination qualifying that was dropped ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend might have actually worked in McLaren’s favor had it remained.

“Ironically, although it was neither successful nor popular, the qualifying system we used in the first two races of the year would probably have been better for us today,” Button said.

“However, it’s just one of those things: we ran used options for our first Q2 run, then we waited until the circuit was at its best before fitting new tires. Like a few others, we were caught out by the Q2 red flag, which was frustrating.

“Being just outside the top 10 has its positive side though: we can choose our starting tire, and there are plenty of options with the three different compounds.

“And, by the way, in the next few races, we will get through to Q3!”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

2 Comments

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.