Bottas: Ferrari ‘outperforming us so much’ at Hungary

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Mercedes AMG Petronas teammates Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton have a tough task facing them in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix (7 a.m. ET, NBCSN), the final race before Formula 1’s summer break.

Not only were Bottas and Hamilton outqualified by the pair of Scuderia Ferraris, Sebastian Vettel on pole and Kimi Raikkonen in second, but they were by a significant margin.

The warning shot was fired at the start of Q3 when Bottas set what was a new track record at the Hungaroring of 1:16.631, but then a fraction of a second later Vettel threw down a 1:16.276 – nearly four tenths quicker – and the time that stood for pole position.

Hamilton didn’t put in a banker lap and could only muster a 1:16.707 on his first and only timed flier later in the session, and even that was a tenth and a half off Bottas, who improved to a 1:16.530.

Raikkonen eclipsed Bottas for second at a 1:16.444. The only bright side for Bottas, perhaps, is that he’ll be starting on the clean side of the track with the even spots on the grid notoriously dirty leaving the line in Budapest.

Bottas, who usually finds a way to be optimistic, was downcast after ending third in qualifying and as far off Ferrari as he and the Mercedes team was.

“They had the upper hand today. They have such quicker cars. They have everything right for this track,” Bottas told NBCSN’s Will Buxton on the front straight, who conducted the post-qualifying interview.

“We still have so much work to do on circuits like this. Let’s see how this goes tomorrow.”

Like at Monaco, Ferrari clearly has the upper hand, and for the balance of this season, it was important for the overall championship battle that Ferrari maintained momentum on a slower track where mechanical grip seems to play more of a role than outright horsepower.

“This weekend yes, clearly,” Bottas responded when asked if Mercedes was on the back foot. “They’re outperforming us so much. We have so much work to do with the car.

“It’ll be a long one tomorrow and the hope is that anything is possible.”

Vettel won here in 2015, but that has been Ferrari’s only Hungary win since 2004 – when Michael Schumacher won what was his 12th win in the first 13 races of that season. Ferrari’s front row lockout today was its first at Hungary since 2004, when Schumacher led Barrichello.

The Ferrari qualifying dominance today also ensures Hamilton will have to wait until after the summer break to secure a record-tying 68th career pole position, which would draw him level with Schumacher for most all-time.

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.