Rosberg quickest in opening Italian GP practice at Monza

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Nico Rosberg made a flying start to the Italian Grand Prix weekend by topping the opening practice session at Monza on Friday morning.

After cutting the gap to Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings down to nine points with victory in Belgium last weekend, Rosberg is bidding to regain the championship lead at Monza.

The German made an impressive start on Friday, posting a fastest lap of 1:22.959 to finish two-tenths of a second clear of Hamilton at the top of the timesheets.

Hamilton had been the leading driver after completing a run on the super-soft tire, only for Rosberg to complete a light fuel run on softs to move ahead.

Armed with an updated power unit for Monza, Ferrari finished third and fourth in the session with Kimi Raikkonen beating teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Sergio Perez finished FP1 fifth for Force India ahead of Romain Grosjean, whose Haas car is also fitted with the power unit upgrades supplied by Ferrari. Teammate Esteban Gutierrez also reached the top 10, finishing ninth.

Valtteri Bottas was seventh-fastest for Williams ahead of Max Verstappen, while Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10 for Red Bull behind Gutierrez.

Alfonso Celis Jr. enjoyed a solid run-out for Force India as his development program continued, finishing 12th, while Kevin Magnussen returned to the wheel of his Renault following a hefty shunt at Spa last weekend.

FP1 also saw the ‘Halo’ enjoy further tests, this time fitted to Jenson Button’s McLaren and the Force India of Perez.

Second practice from Monza is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Friday.

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.