Horner: Bottas not to be dismissed as Mercedes’ number two driver

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner believes that Valtteri Bottas should not be dismissed as Mercedes’ number two driver to Lewis Hamilton, calling the Finn “a very good choice” to replace Nico Rosberg.

Bottas was signed by Mercedes from Williams for 2017 following Rosberg’s shock decision to quit racing just five days after winning his maiden world championship.

Bottas is yet to win a grand prix, having scored nine podium finishes during his time in F1, and will be teammates with three-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton in 2017 – a tough task that others have struggled to manage in the past.

Red Bull appears to have a more balanced F1 driver line-up, with both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen winning grands prix and neither enjoying number one status at the team.

When asked if Mercedes appearing to have a set lead driver in 2017 would make things more difficult for Red Bull, Horner moved to defend Bottas.

“I’m very happy with our driver line-up. I think Valtteri Bottas was a very good choice for Mercedes, Williams’ loss was Mercedes’ gain,” Horner said.

“I’m sure he will be competitive, he is a quick driver, he’s been very quick in the lower formulas and I wouldn’t dismiss him to just being a number two just at the moment.

“I’m very comfortable with the two drivers we’ve got and I wouldn’t rather have any other drivers in our cars.”

Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda said after Rosberg’s announcement that half the grid had been in contact regarding the vacant seat.

Horner confirmed that there was a conversation regarding Red Bull’s drivers, but that it was instigated by Lauda himself and that the approach was knocked back immediately.

“Niki likes to talk as we all know. He does a lot of talking,” Horner said.

“He made an inquiry but it was quite a short call.”

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.