There is one common theme when it comes to Jamie Chadwick.
“She’s a proven winner,” said Michael Andretti, CEO and chairman of Andretti Autosport.
Chadwick was announced Thursday as driver of the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Dallara and will contest the 2023 season in INDY NXT by Firestone. The chosen path toward the NTT INDYCAR SERIES comes after a remarkable run in the W Series, where she earned 11 wins, 18 podium finishes and 10 poles in 21 starts en route to claiming the championship in all three seasons of the series’ history.
“It's one thing having the opportunity to now step up and progress into the championship like INDY NXT, but it's another to be doing it with a team like Andretti,” Chadwick said. “I think everyone wants these opportunities, and very few people get them. I'm very, very grateful. It wouldn't be possible without the likes of DHL. I'm really excited by it.”
The Briton was part of a private test with the team last month at Sebring International Raceway, ending up fourth in both sessions that featured 16 drivers.
“I think the performance of the cars in general is definitely higher,” Chadwick said. “I was surprised by how quick they were when I first tested. That said, they're really enjoyable to drive. I think it's a different driving style required. The main thing is the slightly longer races.
“We did a bit of street tracks in W Series, but here there are quite a few street tracks, as well as ovals, which are going to be a new challenge for me.
“Yeah, there's quite a few differences, but I think having followed the championship and followed as well INDYCAR over the last few years quite closely, it's something I'm really looking forward to and excited about more than anything else.”
There is some familiarity with a few drivers around the paddock for Chadwick, which includes current NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver and fellow Andretti teammate Devlin DeFrancesco, reigning INDY NXT champion Linus Lundqvist, and impending grid rival Danial Frost.
Chadwick and Lundqvist were teammates for one race weekend in 2017 at Double R Racing in British F3 before being rivals on opposite teams the following year, which saw Chadwick, driving for Douglas Racing, become the first female race winner in series history at Brands Hatch.
The two also shared the grid in the 2018-19 MRF Challenge, where Chadwick captured six wins and nine podium results over the 15-race schedule to win the championship. Frost joined for the opening two rounds (10 races) in Dubai and Bahrain, while Lundqvist only contested the final round in India.
During the 2019-20 Formula Regional (F3) Asian Championship campaign, Chadwick went on to finish fourth in the title race, besting the likes of eventual 2021 Indianapolis 500 starter and current Haas F1 reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi. Additionally, she was teammates with DeFrancesco, who was part of the opening three rounds, at Absolute Racing.
Chadwick, who has been part of the Williams Racing Driver Academy since 2019, is set to be the first female to race full-time in INDY NXT in 13 years.
“I think that, although 13 years maybe sounds like a lot, in comparison to a lot of stuff I raced in, it's actually quite a small amount of time,” Chadwick said. “I think what it does show is there is a proven pathway for women over in America.
“In INDYCAR, for example, Andretti have seen the likes of Danica (Patrick) win races. So, I see it as a positive thing, as well, that women are capable of being successful in the likes of INDYCAR and INDY NXT. With that, I want to use that as an encouraging thing and do the best myself.”
At 24, Chadwick comes in as the second-oldest driver on the grid in INDY NXT. However, she is more concerned with her development with numbers on the timesheets as opposed to her birth certificate.
“I think it's one of my biggest frustrations in motorsport as a sport, that it feels like you have to be everywhere yesterday,” said Chadwick, who, in 2014, became the first female - and youngest - champion in the British GT Championship (GT4 Class).
“It feels like maybe the effects, I don't know. The younger you are, the better you are. Whereas I look at it very differently. I started in the sport quite late. I was 12 years old. I only did club karting, and actually I spent three years now in the W Series, which relatively is maybe Formula 4, Formula 3 level, or below Formula 3 level, anyway. So, I still see it as I've still got a lot that I need to learn and develop in motorsport before I'm capable of anything like INDYCAR.”
More than age, she believes it’s more about being ready for the next step.
“In any other sport, a lot of people don't look at ages,” Chadwick said. “I always use rugby as an example. Our England rugby captain made his debut when I was 27, and it's never an issue because performance is performance, and when you're ready, you're ready. That's how I feel regardless of age.
“Yeah, I just need to use the INDY NXT championship as the best development platform as possible, learn as much as possible, and when I'm ready for the likes of INDYCAR, I'm ready, and I can make that step.”