British driver Jamie Chadwick, 20, stood on the top step of the podium at Hockenheim today to become the first ever W Series race winner. The pole sitter had to cope with strong opposition from the 17 other drivers in the first race of the first ever single-seater series for female drivers only, but she mastered the tricky conditions in what was a closely fought opening round to the six-race competition.
Very wet conditions in qualifying were a challenge for all the W Series drivers, but Bath-born Jamie was at the top of the time sheets for most of the 25-minute session, Fabienne Wohlwend (from Liechtenstein) claiming the other front-row starting position and another Brit, Sarah Moore, third on the grid.
As weather conditions improved ahead of the race and the 18 cars lined up behind the start-line, nerves were understandably kicking in for all the drivers, but they did not show it. Jamie made a perfect start to lead the field; however, a brake issue for her at the hairpin gave Sarah a window of opportunity to steal the lead, which she duly did. Then, still on lap one, a collision at Turn Six resulted in Megan Gilkes (CAN) and Emma Kimiläinen (FIN) retiring and the Safety Car being deployed so that their damaged cars could be moved out of the way.
Then all eyes turned to Alice Powell (GBR) who climbed from P6 to P2, creating an exciting Brit-versus-Brit-versus-Brit battle at the head of the field. But Jamie fought hard to restore her lead, Alice hot on her heels in second and Marta Garcia (ESP) storming through to third, a line-up that then continued all the way to the chequered flag.
Behind that three-way battle there were some great fightbacks, several drivers making up places from lowly starting positions, among them Tasmin Pepper (RSA), who drove from 16th to eighth; but Miki Koyama (JAP) drove even more forcefully, moving from 17th on the grid to seventh at the flag, not only setting the fastest lap of the race but the second-fastest too, just 0.001sec slower than her best.
“After a huge amount of hard graft by the W Series team – a small band of dedicated and talented individuals whom I’m proud but humbled to work with – it was truly emotional to see our 18 cars line up on the Hockenheim grid this afternoon.
“What then followed was a brilliant race, full of wheel-to-wheel action all the way down the field. Jamie led from pole, but I was impressed to see Sarah quickly wrest the lead from her. At the Safety Car restart Jamie reasserted herself, and the battle for victory then became a two-car fight between her and Alice. They both drove extremely well but Jamie judged things perfectly to hold on to win, and I was delighted to see one of our youngest drivers, 18-year-old Marta, finish third – her first podium finish in a single-seater race.
“Did W Series make history today? Some people have been kind enough to use those words, but it isn’t for me to say. What I will say, though, is that today was a great day for women in motorsport and women in sport, and there will be more such days to come, starting at Zolder [Belgium] in two weeks’ time.”
Jamie Chadwick (UK), P1
“The win feels great. Going into the race, the conditions were tricky which made things a bit more difficult but off the back of qualifying and the back of yesterday, I really was pushing to get the first win.
“Losing the lead to Sarah caught me out a bit. I couldn’t get the car stopped at the hairpin and had a bit of an issue where I couldn’t get down the gears but, when the Safety Car went back in, I knew I had a good opportunity get the lead back and win.”