Bottas, Raikkonen set for another battle from P2, P3 on Baku grid

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Formula 1’s pair of Finns – who have occasionally contacted each other – may be set for another intriguing battle for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix (9 a.m. ET, NBCSN).

Valtteri Bottas slotted his Mercedes AMG Petronas car into second on the grid with Kimi Raikkonen outqualifying Sebastian Vettel at Scuderia Ferrari for the second time in three races. Raikkonen had the pole at Monaco and today at the Baku City Circuit he is third while Vettel is fourth.

Unfortunately for both Finnish drivers, neither was happy with their position, as Lewis Hamilton took his 66th career pole.

Bottas looked the early polesitter in Q3 before Hamilton’s stormer of a lap at 1:40.593 eclipsed him by about seventh tenths, although he improved to just 0.434 off by the end of the session.

“It was disappointing – I was going for the pole,” Bottas said in parc ferme after qualifying. “I struggled with the front left temperature. Lewis had a good lap. I didn’t. Second place is not bad.

“I think Lewis had a really good lap and I didn’t. I wasn’t quite comfortable with the tire temperatures. It was the first time we tried to go for a time in the first lap of the tires and I couldn’t get them to work as well as Lewis. I didn’t have enough grip. The run before was good, and before the red flag everything was going OK.

“In the end I’m disappointed to lose the pole position, as that was definitively the target for me today, but I’m really proud. We’ve made quite big changes through the practice sessions, we were quite lost, to be honest, in the beginning and we managed to turn it around, so for that I’m really, pleased. For tomorrow we, as a team, definitively have a great starting position and we’re going to have a good fight and try to get another one-two for the team.”

Raikkonen was 1.1 seconds off the pace in third, top Ferrari driver, and not happy to be as far back. He said he struggled with the tires as well. Both fast times were set on the Pirelli supersoft compound.

“Obviously it’s better than where I was before. But it’s been difficult compared to where I was before,” Raikkonen said in parc ferme.

“Luckily the last set was a better feeling. If you switch it on, it goes good. It depends when you switch on the tires.”

Vettel starts fourth but will look to benefit on Sunday.

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.