Sauber confirms Leclerc for F1 practice outings starting in Malaysia

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Ferrari junior and runaway Formula 2 championship leader Charles Leclerc will appear for Sauber in four Formula 1 practice sessions later this year, starting next week in Malaysia.

Leclerc, 19, won last year’s GP3 title and is currently 59 points clear in the F2 standings with four races remaining.

The Monegasque driver has been linked with a drive at Sauber for 2018 given its technical partnership with Ferrari, with confirmation of his practice program pointing towards a future race seat.

“The Sauber F1 Team is pleased to confirm that Charles Leclerc will be in the cockpit of the Sauber C36-Ferrari during four free practice sessions ahead of the upcoming 2017 Formula One Grand Prix,” a statement from Sauber reads.

“Leclerc, the current leader in this year’s F2 series, will be participating in FP1 sessions during the race weekends in Malaysia, US, Mexico and Brazil.

“At the Malaysian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc will be driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari for the first time in FP1 on Friday at the Sepang International Circuit. Regular driver Marcus Ericsson will take over the car from FP2 onwards.”

Sauber is expected to part company with Mercedes youngster Pascal Wehrlein at the end of the season, with Leclerc set to take his seat.

Ericsson’s future is also unclear after another tough and point-less season with Sauber, although his links to the team’s owners may keep him on for a fourth year at Hinwil.

Should Ericsson lose his seat, Leclerc’s fellow Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi is the favorite to make the step up, having deputized for Wehrlein in Australia and China earlier this 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.