Haas F1 Team banks first double Q3 appearance in Suzuka

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Haas F1 Team has achieved an incredible accomplishment, by getting both its Haas VF-16 Ferraris into Q3 for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix (midnight ET on Sunday morning/9 p.m. PT on Saturday evening, NBCSN).

Romain Grosjean matched his car number and will line up eighth, while Esteban Gutierrez will start 10th in his No. 21 car.

It’s quite an accomplishment for the first-year team and comes following a series of mechanical issues – primarily with the brakes – that have prevented the team from fulfilling its potential in terms of results in recent Grands Prix.

Grosjean, who came third in the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, didn’t say he was entirely comfortable but was still pleased with his result.

“It felt pretty good. Quali went pretty smoothly,” Grosjean told NBCSN’s Will Buxton. “There’s still a bit to improve. We used the new front wing today and it’s very positive for the future of the team. It’s going in the right direction. It translated into good aerodynamic performance. Quali went nice. Between seventh and eighth, and here we are.”

Asked whether he thought the brakes issue was sorted, he was non-committal, and instead noted that he’s struggled trying to get the balance right on the tires.

“I’m still not at my best yet! There’s a few things I’m not pleased with,” he admitted. “I’ve struggled with the tires. They can’t take much load. It just doesn’t work. So I have to find a fine balance.”

On the race prospects itself, Grosjean said, “Hopefully we get a good start and it’s not so easy to overtake. Once we have our pace, it’s a case of getting the best tire degradation.”

Gutierrez starts 10th in search of his first points this season – he’s finished just outside them in 11th on five occasions – and looks for his first points in F1 since his first and thus far only career score, seventh place for Sauber in that same 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.

“I’m quite happy today. It’s an incredible achievement for the whole team,” Gutierrez told Buxton. “We managed to put everything together. We have a fantastic starting position for tomorrow. We are trying to find ourselves the fine-tuning.

“We improve step by step, our level of knowledge is improving. We know how to recover on a weekend. We started with poor pace. We put in the best performance of the season.”

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.