Wolff: Being Hamilton’s teammate ‘a tough challenge’ for Rosberg

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Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff says that being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate is a “tough challenge” for Nico Rosberg, but believes the German driver can turn around the points deficit to win the 2016 drivers’ championship.

Rosberg and Hamilton have been teammates since the beginning of 2013, enjoying a fierce rivalry during their battle for the world championship over the past three seasons.

Rosberg surged into a 43-point lead at the beginning of the 2016 season, only for Hamilton to chip away at his advantage before moving ahead in Hungary. Hamilton now leads Rosberg by 19 points with nine rounds remaining.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Wolff spoke about the rivalry between his drivers, both of whom have enjoyed varying successes through their careers.

Both won the GP2 title (Rosberg in 2005, Hamilton in 2006), but Rosberg did not win his first grand prix until his seventh season in F1. Hamilton has won a race in every season he has competed in.

Although Wolff does not think that this lack of victories has a mental impact on Rosberg in the battle against Hamilton, he conceded that being a teammate with the Briton is a challenge.

“No I don’t think it does something mentally. If you end up in Formula One and win races, you are mentally very strong,” Hamilton said.

“Nico’s circumstances were completely different to those of Lewis who immediately started his F1 career in a winning team with McLaren. Probably if he wouldn’t have won back then, that would have meant something.

“Right now Nico is paired with Lewis who is probably the best driver in F1 at the moment, and yes, that is a tough challenge.

“That is a benchmark – and he accepts that.”

When asked if Rosberg is still able to win a maiden F1 drivers’ championship in 2016, Wolff said: “We are half way through the 2016 season and only 19 points separate both.

“That’s less than one race win, and Nico is superb in qualifying. So both are on the same level.”

Hamilton is currently spending his summer break at the annual Crop Over festival in Barbados, chronicling his adventures on Snapchat.

Hamilton is one of the most present F1 drivers in mainstream media, gracing red carpets over the world and enjoying a celebrity status alongside his racing commitments.

Questions have been asked in the past regarding Hamilton’s focus, but Wolff said that so long as he continues to deliver on-track, Mercedes won’t interfere.

“As long as he functions as a race driver on the weekend and delivers results, we don’t interfere in the private life of the drivers,” Wolff said.

“Everybody is allowed to have friends in the social environment he chooses. This goes for both the drivers – and each member of the team.

“And so far over the last three years our results show that this has worked out well. Is it a recipe for future success? I don’t know!”

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.