Jamie Chadwick celebrates her win
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
It was the same track, but a completely different result for Jamie Chadwick at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday, as she practically put her car into cruise control to speed to victory in the second W Series race of the season in Styria.
After the dramatic events of last week’s opener, which saw reigning champion Chadwick spin away from her hopes of a podium place, her pole position from qualifying this time put her back up to where she has become accustomed to racing.
Thanks to second-fastest qualifier, and 2019 runner-up, Beitske Visser stalling her car at the start, Chadwick then had a clear path to a win and was never even close to being caught – finishing six seconds ahead of the rest of the grid.
"Going into it I knew Beitske was going to push me really hard and was going to be closest to me if I got a good start," Chadwick said post-race. "So when I saw that she hadn’t made it off the line, it definitely was a good advantage. Fortunately I was able to get a good gap after the first lap and it definitely made my life easier."
It was a classy improvement from her sixth place last week – after she had engine trouble in qualifying and Jessica Hawkins barged into her in the opening couple of minutes to put here out of contention.
"This is how I wanted to start the year. On the back of last weekend, and the disappointment, I really knew I had an opportunity this weekend with all the issues resolved to really make our mark and I felt like we’re able to do that. This year it’s definitely gonna ebb and flow. It’s not going to be easy to be consistent, but at the same time to sort of have a race weekend where everything goes go smoothly is so important."
Her third W Series race win puts her top of the Championship heading into the series’ first ever race at Silverstone on British Grand Prix weekend later this month, with two other British drivers, Sarah Moore and Alice Powell, in close second and third.
Chadwick cruised to victory after taking the lead on the first lap
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Moore, last week’s runner-up, moved four places up from qualifying to finish an impressive fourth on Saturday, while Powell powered back from a disappointing 13th in qualifying to place 8th. 17-year-old Russian Irina Sidorkova and strong Finnish driver Emma Kimilainen completed the podium places.
Abbie Eaton also finished in the points in sixth for another strong British result, while Hawkins had a tough race down in 16th, adding to her disappointing start to this year after the 30-second penalty she received for crashing into Chadwick. Visser meanwhile is having a nightmare so far in 2021, failing to score any points from the first two races.
British drivers show class to dominate podium and take control of championship
Analysis by Molly McElwee
To see three British drivers topping the standings after two races is a promising start to the championship, made even more tantalising when you consider the next race is at Silverstone on July 17.
In 2019, W Series raced their British leg at Brands Hatch but have been upgraded to the home of UK motorsport this season. As a Formula 1 support series, there is more hype around W Series than ever. To go into the British Grand Prix weekend with three Brits poised to take control of this championship is huge.
"It’s really cool," Chadwick said of the results. "We’ve got such a strong group of British drivers, it’s nice that we’ve all kind of found ourselves at the top of the table for now. But I think it will ebb and flow throughout the year.
"Going to Silverstone, it’s nice to have the British support and I think for all of us, it’s going to be a very special race. We’re all going to be looking forward to it. I think it’s just keeping all the other drivers at bay as well."
Just four points separate them, with Chadwick top on 33, Moore on 30, and Powell on 29. It is only early days, but with W Series still being a relatively short series of only eight races, the way you perform at the start of the season can prop you up nicely as the competition heats up. It is also a brilliant sign of the potential the female British drivers have.
After her win last week, Powell spoke of trying to find the consistency which she did not have in 2019 – where she made four podiums but did not finish two races. Her qualifying performance, hampered by a problem with her breaks, was not the ideal start to her weekend, but pulling herself up to 8th salvaged it somewhat. Moore is also flying so far, and has moved from middle of the table driver from 2019 to a real contender.
Chadwick is back as a front-runner, and her experience with F1 could well give her an edge in a fortnight’s time. "I last was there in 2019 with Williams, only as a spectator and as part of the team," Chadwick said, as a current development driver for the F1 team.
"Honestly it was such an incredible experience, so to know that I’m going to be racing on that same weekend is very special and Silverstone is a great circuit so one I’m sure the whole grid is going to enjoy driving."