Max Verstappen wins first Monaco GP, takes F1 title points lead from Lewis Hamilton

Monaco Max Verstappen
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MONACO — Max Verstappen won the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time to take the Formula One championship lead from Lewis Hamilton on Sunday, while pole sitter Charles Leclerc pulled out just before the race started.

Verstappen’s second win this season and 12th of his career moved the Red Bull driver four points ahead of Hamilton overall. The seven-time world champion finished seventh on a bad day for the usually ultra-reliable Mercedes team.

His teammate Valtteri Bottas went from second place to out of the race before the midway point after his team botched a tire change.

Verstappen finished 8.9 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in second place and 19.4 seconds clear of McLaren’s Lando Norris. They secured their third career podiums, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was one second behind Norris in fourth.

It’s the first time that Verstappen has led the F1 championship points standings during his career, which began in 2016. It also was the first time in five races this season that Hamilton and Verstappen have not finished 1-2, but Hamilton’s chances were effectively ended when he qualifed a poor seventh on Saturday.

Leclerc’s chances of winning his home race from pole position ended when he pulled out with a gearbox problem.

Leclerc damaged it crashing 18 seconds from the end of qualifying. He risked a five-place grid penalty if the gearbox was changed, but Ferrari said earlier Sunday he could race with it.

About 20 minutes before the race Ferrari gave up and he pulled out. Two years ago, Leclerc retired early in Monaco in his first season at Ferrari.

The race director decided not to move Verstappen up from second to pole and left that space blank, giving Bottas more room to overtake on the inside.

He started well, but Verstappen held him off.

The sinewy 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) course is the hardest in F1 to overtake on, and Hamilton was in sixth and stuck behind Pierre Gasly when he changed for new hard tires on Lap 30 of 78, followed by Bottas on the next lap.

But Mercedes could not fit Bottas’ tires and his race ended.

Verstappen’s tire change on Lap 34 was a slick 2 seconds and he came back out just behind Perez, who switched tires on Lap 36 allowing Verstappen to regain the lead.

The Dutchman started cruising as Hamilton sounded frustrated on team radio.

“How am I still behind (Gasly)? Come on,” said Hamilton, whose friend Serena Williams was watching from a balcony.

Hamilton took a bonus point for the fastest lap toward the end, a rare bright spot on a dismal day for the defending champion and his team.

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.