Force India reaches new heights, securing P4 in F1 constructors’ championship

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Force India reached new heights on Sunday in Abu Dhabi as it clinched fourth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship ahead of the rival Williams team.

Force India started life at the back of the grid in 2008, following the team’s past history as Jordan, Midland (MF1) and Spyker, but has since become one of F1’s most respected teams as it leads the fight against better-funded manufacturer operations.

The team has battled with Williams for P4 in the teams’ standings all year long, but finally wrapped up the position in Abu Dhabi with another double-points score.

Fourth was confirmed mid-race in Abu Dhabi when Williams’ Valtteri Bottas retired from the race, as the British team could not score enough points to bridge the gap with just one car.

Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez did not relent, though, bringing their cars home in P7 and P8 to cap off a memorable season for Force India.

Fourth in the constructors’ championship beats its previous best finish from 2015, when it ended the year fifth in the standings. The team ended the season 35 points clear of Williams.

“To end the season with two cars solidly inside the points and with fourth place in the constructors’ championship feels fantastic,” deputy team boss Bob Fernley said after the race.

“It has been a tremendous year for us and it’s important to pay tribute to each and every member of the team for all their hard work and hours of dedication back at base and at the track.

“All the effort has paid off and we can now celebrate the best ever year in our history. Both drivers did a super job today, as they have done all year long.”

Hulkenberg’s appearance in Abu Dhabi was his last for Force India ahead of his move to Renault for the 2017 season.

“It’s great to end my time at Force India with a strong result and help the team finish fourth in the championship. Everybody deserves congratulations and big credit for the amazing job this year,” Hulkenberg said.

“I leave this team with lots of happy memories and Force India will always be a part of my life. I’ve learned a huge amount here and they have made me a better racing driver.

“We’ve grown up together and I’m proud of what we have achieved.”

Perez will remain at Force India for 2017, leading its charge into the new era of F1 technical regulations alongside Esteban Ocon, who took part in his final race for Manor in Abu Dhabi ahead of his move up the grid.

“It was great to finish the season with some points and to end an incredible year with a good result,” Perez said.

“Now that the season is over, I will go back to Mexico and enjoy some rest. It’s been a long and intense year and I am looking forward to some downtime with friends and family.

“They’re going to be happy holidays, thinking about what we have achieved this year. I’ll chill out a bit and then it’s back to work for 2017!”

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.