Kamui Kobayashi set for Formula E debut with MS&AD Andretti

Photo: MS&AD Andretti FE
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The rebranded MS&AD Andretti Formula E team will run Toyota LMP1 factory ace, Super Formula driver and ex-Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi in its No. 27 car for the 2017-2018 FIA Formula E Championship season opener at Hong Kong in a few weeks.

Japanese driver Kobayashi will make his series debut alongside Antonio Felix da Costa, retained by the team for another season, and in place of Tom Blomqvist, who was announced by the FIA in the team’s second seat when the full entry list was released but not by the team itself. A good read explaining the background and predicament of how the seat has weaved to Kobayashi, at least for Hong Kong, is here via e-racing365.com.

“First of all, I would like to thank to Michael, the whole Andretti Formula E team and MS&AD insurance for giving me this wonderful opportunity to race at the Hong Kong EPRIX,” Kobayashi said. “Andretti is one of the world most popular racing families and I am so excited to have my Formula E debut race under his name. I will be going to the race weekend without testing which is not an easy thing to be honest, but the team has been giving me all the support so no worrying at all and I am really looking forward to having good races there.”

Adrian Britten, Director of Brand & Communications for MS Amlin, the London-based international arm of Japanese global insurer MS&AD, added: “We are delighted that Kamui Kobayashi has joined the MS&AD Andretti team and are looking forward to real excitement on the track. The welcome return of a Japanese driver to the Formula E grid will hopefully encourage a future Formula E race in Japan.”

Blomqvist wasn’t mentioned in the release and it’ll be interesting to see if the MS&AD Andretti squad, which made a number of driver changes in season one but has since retained consistency in its lineup – first with Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro in season two, then Frijns and da Costa in season three – will opt to switch things up after Hong Kong.

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.