Formula 1: Bottas laments missed opportunity for Azerbaijan victory

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Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Valtteri Bottas looked destined to win Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. A timely Safety Car on Lap 40, for contact between Red Bull Racing drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, allowed Bottas to pit for ultra soft Pirelli tires while holding the lead.

And given its proximity to end of the 51-lap race, the Safety Car also forced rivals like Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to do the same, allowing Bottas to retain the the lead when racing resumed on Lap 46.

When Vettel overshot Turn 1 in an attempt to overtake Bottas on the restart, the Mercedes driver looked to be in the clear to take his first victory of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Alas, it all went away one lap later, when he ran over a piece of debris on the front straightaway, resulting in a right-rear tire puncture as he approached Turn 1. He eventually had to pull off the track, relegating him to 14th in the finishing order.

A gutted Bottas was able to keep things in perspective, but his disappointment was evident.

“I’m absolutely heartbroken. It hurts a lot. But this is racing; some days are good, some days are bad – and some days are very bad,” he explained.

Bottas further explained, “A small piece of debris destroyed my entire weekend. We had a good race until the puncture. The car felt really good and we were fast. I thought I had everything under control on the Safety Car restart, but then suddenly my tire exploded. I didn’t see the debris and I couldn’t feel it until the tire blew. It was really close the last couple of races, so it’s good that our team won today, but I’m obviously still very disappointed. I’ll try again in two weeks.”

Bottas sits fourth in the driver’s championship with 40 points after four races.

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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.