Zak Brown: Ron Dennis played role in McLaren F1 recruitment

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Newly-appointed McLaren executive director Zak Brown says that outgoing chairman CEO Ron Dennis played an important role in recruiting him for the British marque.

McLaren announced last week that Dennis would be leaving the team after 35 years at the helm, with the Briton claiming he had been removed by his fellow shareholders on “spurious” grounds.

McLaren confirmed six days later that Brown had joined as an executive director, with the American businessman making his first appearance in the Formula 1 paddock with the team in Abu Dhabi.

Despite only arriving at the team once Dennis’ departure had been confirmed, Brown revealed in an interview with the official F1 website that he had been in talks about joining McLaren for a number of months.

“I have a great relationship with Ron. Ron set out recruiting me,” Brown said.

“Ron and I started serious talks in the middle of the year, so I wouldn’t be sitting where I am without Ron. He is very much in my mind. I have spoken to him before I came to Abu Dhabi.

“My relationship with Ron is unchanged.”

When asked if Dennis hoped to retain control over McLaren through Brown, the American replied: “I don’t know what he hopes. This is a question for Ron to answer.

“All I can say is that he told me before I flew out to Abu Dhabi that it is a very good thing that I have joined.”

McLaren has struggled to find much success on-track in recent years, not winning a race since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and failing to score a podium since Australia 2014.

While Brown is refusing to make any firm predictions, he is confident that the team can be stronger both on- and off-track in a year’s time.

“I would like to see more partners on the race car [in a year],” Brown said.

“I want to see more on-track success, probably having a view of the podium.

“But I don’t want to get caught making predictions. What I can say: ‘more’ is the route to go!”

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.