Brown: McLaren still targeting top five in F1 pecking order this year

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McLaren executive director Zak Brown says the team is still aiming to better its performance from last year despite currently sitting last in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship after five races.

McLaren has been hamstrung by issues with the power unit supplied by Honda, which has lacked both reliability and performance so far this season following a redesign over the winter.

The team has seen the checkered flag just three times so far this season and is yet to finish on the lead lap, leaving it at the foot of the teams’ standings. It is also the only team not to score a point so far this season.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Brown said that even with its current problems, McLaren’s pre-season target remains unchanged as it looks to grow in strength ahead of 2018.

“We want to be better than we were in 2016; that remains. Whether that is in the final points tally, that will probably be difficult,” Brown said.

“But finishing the season and being more competitive than a sixth-place team, that is the goal and that has not changed.”

Brown admitted that he thought McLaren would be stronger this year than it has been, but remains confident that time can be made up through the remainder of the campaign.

” I thought we would have improved from 2016, which clearly we have not after the Barcelona race where things looked promising for a blink of an eye with Fernando [Alonso]’s grid position. But it didn’t work in the race.

“But I am optimistic that we will catch and pass our 2016 performance at the end of the year.”

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.