McLaren: No fundamental issues with Honda F1 power unit design

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has insisted that there are no fundamental issues with Honda’s new Formula 1 power unit design despite a number of issues arising during testing earlier this week.

McLaren enters the 2017 F1 campaign hopeful of returning to the podium, having not recorded a top-three finish since linking up with Honda at the start of 2015.

Power unit issues blighted McLaren for much of the 2015 campaign before progress was made last year, with the British team finishing sixth in the constructors’ championship.

Such progress led to hopes that 2017 could yield even better results, only for McLaren to lose hours of track time through the first pre-season test due to issues with Honda’s power unit.

The Japanese manufacturer has changed the layout of its power unit for 2017, but Boullier insists that the issues experienced during testing are not set to blight McLaren’s entire season.

“It is fixable, but it was not the plan to have these issues,” Boullier said, as quoted by the official F1 website.

“They are not really serious, as there are no fundamental issues with the design.”

Having seen drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne manage just 208 laps in total – by comparison, mileage leader Mercedes managed 558 – Boullier conceded that McLaren’s expectations for the first test had not been met.

“We had slightly higher expectations coming to Barcelona, but then the week didn’t start exactly as we wanted,” Boullier said.

“I think there is a bit more work to be done in Japan to investigate why we had those issues: issues that we absolutely did not expect to have – and for sure neither did Honda.”

Boullier added that McLaren was in “a much better situation” than at this point in 2015 or 2016, but conceded: “It is not good enough for our expectations and the expectations of our fans after three years.

“Honda are still three years behind in time to the others. Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari started in 2010 – and all these three started with an existing organization, as all three were already doing F1 engines

“In 2013 Honda decided to come back to Formula One and started from scratch: empty buildings! They had to buy everything and find the right people.

“So to be fair you have manufacturers who had seven years and are still struggling, and Honda started four years after the others.

“These units are so complicated that you have to be really process driven and go step by step.

“Unfortunately there is no short cut.”

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.