Hulkenberg not surprised by charge to seventh in USGP qualifying

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Nico Hulkenberg says he is not surprised by his charge to seventh place in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas on Saturday, believing it to have been the best result Force India could have scored.

Force India traveled to Austin embroiled in a tight battle with Williams for fourth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship, currently enjoying a 10-point advantage with four races remaining.

Hulkenberg featured in the top 10 throughout practice at the Circuit of The Americas, and converted this impressive pace into seventh place on the grid in qualifying.

The German finished clear of Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in P8 and P9 respectively, but was not surprised by such a strong showing.

“No, this was expected. We always thought the car should perform quite well here,” Hulkenberg told NBCSN after the session.

“Seventh was the maximum we could do. For our own power, we couldn’t be with the top three. But beat Williams by half a second, and that wasn’t really expected. All good.”

With every point proving crucial in the battle with Williams, Hulkenberg was asked whether he would like a lonely race to seventh on Sunday.

“I wouldn’t mind that. A quiet race can be nice,” Hulkenberg said.

“It’s chip away and take the points home. I don’t plan for a messy first lap, but that could happen. I just want a good result.”

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2:30pm 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.