Thursday , July 7 2022

Jamie Chadwick eclipses W Series rivals with back-to-back victories | Motor sport

Showcasing the talents of female drivers was the intent of the W Series, but at its opening two rounds in Miami this weekend it swiftly became all about the singular abilities of one woman in particular. Britain’s Jamie Chadwick won her second race in a row on Sunday at the Miami International Autodrome in an ominously strong start to the season by the double champion.

The W Series was first held in 2019 with the aim of giving female drivers a chance to compete where a lack of funding was curtailing, or in some cases stalling, their careers. The long-term goal is to return a female driver to Formula One, which has not had a woman compete at a grand prix since Lella Lombardi raced in Austria in 1976.

Chadwick won the opening season with a dominant display. In the second season, held in 2021, she was pushed to the wire by Britain’s Alice Powell, one of the drivers whose career had been resurrected by W Series. But Chadwick came out on top with victory in the season finale at Brands Hatch. Her consistency has been absolutely authoritative and, with victory here, she has been on the podium in every race since the second round of last season.

The 23-year-old from Bath had been hopeful of moving into the F1 feeder series, F3, this year, but admitted she did not have the right preparation nor the funding yet behind her to ensure a competitive drive. She has been unequivocal in saying she does not want to enter the series unless she can do it justice and has chosen to race in W Series again this year, while still targeting a move up to F3.

This season she is racing in the team backed by former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and on Saturday, in an incident-packed race, she took the lead off the line, lost it in a tight battle with Finland’s Emma Kimiläinen but remained composed enough to once more take the win with a pass on the final lap.

In race two on Sunday, she started from pole and was on top throughout, leading to the flag to take victory a full three seconds up the road from Spain’s Nerea Martí, who was second with Powell in third; a good comeback for the British driver who had crashed out on the opening lap in Saturday’s race. For Chadwick this was another maximum-points haul after last season she took four wins in eight races, but she now has two already from the 10 to be contested this year.

Chadwick roars ahead of Emma Kimiläinen
Chadwick roars ahead of Emma Kimiläinen. Photograph: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

“I was confident heading into it but anything can happen, racing is so unpredictable,” she said. “It has gone better than expected, it’s not like we have been dominant with pace, so I am pleased we took the points but it is not going to be easy going into the rest of the year.”

Chadwick has identified Powell and Kimiläinen, who was third last year, as likely challengers to her hegemony from the 18-driver grid. She already enjoys a resounding lead in the championship, 24 points clear of Martí in second and 29 in front of Beitske Visser in third. She was, however, taking nothing for granted despite the impressive start to the season.

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“It has exceeded expectations,” she said “But it doesn’t mean a huge amount, there are still eight races left. I could DNF at the next two races. But it is important to start on the right foot and I am hoping that gives us confidence and momentum going forward for the rest of the season.”

The W Series chief executive, Catherine Bond Muir, paid tribute to the series’ most successful driver but played down any suggestion that Chadwick’s dominance would detract from interest in the championship. “Jamie has shown her class all weekend,” she said. “But I don’t think she is necessarily the quickest. She is fantastically consistent, that is why she has been champion twice. If she wins or not this year I don’t think it’s a bad reflection on W Series. I am not about to kick our champion out. I don’t believe Jamie is going to run away with the whole season.”

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