Hamilton fights from 21st to third at Spa, keeps F1 championship lead

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Lewis Hamilton fought back from a 60-place grid penalty that resigned him to the back of the field to finish the Belgian Grand Prix in third place, ensuring he retains the lead of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.

Hamilton was forced to take three new power units over the weekend at Spa after issues earlier in the season meant he did not have enough components to get to the end of the season.

Hamilton started the race from 21st on the grid, but rose up the order on the first lap after clashes further ahead involving Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen.

Hamilton sat fifth before the race was red flagged so that repairs could be completed on a barrier damaged in a crash for Kevin Magnussen, allowing him to swap tires in the pits.

Despite passing Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg to run third before making his second pit stop, Hamilton was unable to match the pace of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg or Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo ahead.

Mercedes tried a final stint on the medium tire to get Hamilton into the fight for second, a call the Briton was quick to question. Ultimately, he finished 13 seconds behind Ricciardo in third place.

Hamilton was pleased with the result when speaking on the podium after the race, ensuring that Rosberg did not re-take the lead of the championship with victory. The gap between them heading to Monza is nine points.

“The team did an amazing job this weekend,” Hamilton said.

“I changed three engines so I’m actually ahead of these guys on engines now which is a good thing.

“Just a remarkable day. Beautiful weather, great crowd, great race.”

Speaking in the post-race press conference, Hamilton admitted that he could not believe he’d managed to fight his way up the pack so quickly.

“I can’t believe we came up so far,” Hamilton said.

“I woke up this morning knowing how difficult it would be on these tires with blistering. You can never predict what will happen in racing.

“Great thing is every Sunday is different. We had previous races with no incidents but today there was.

“You make sure you had the right approach: not too aggressive, not too easy. Today collectively we had the right balance. This is the best result I could have hoped for.”

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.