Hamilton: Car ‘night and day different’ between Suzuka FP3 and qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton says he was “really happy” with second place on the grid for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix after making radical changes to the setup on his Mercedes that made the car “night and day different”.

Hamilton arrived in Japan trailing Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 23 points in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship after retiring last weekend when leading the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton lagged behind Rosberg through all three practice sessions, with the gap of half a second in FP3 hinting that qualifying may be a foregone conclusion.

Hamilton fought back though, topping Q3 early on to take provisional pole before Rosberg went 0.013 seconds faster on his final lap to take P1 away.

Despite missing out on pole, Hamilton was content with second and the changes made to his car after final practice.

“I’m happy with the job I did, that’s all I can say. I did the best I could,” Hamilton told NBCSN.

“I got to FP2, was getting closer ,then made some changes to the car when we got to FP3 and it was a disaster.

“Then I had to make a big, big change going into qualifying and the car was completely different, it was like night and day different.

“You only had three or four laps, so to have done four laps and managed to get back that close, I’m really happy.”

The Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 12am ET on Sunday.

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.