Two wins in two days gave Jamie Chadwick back-to-back W Series titles as the all-female competition made its US debut.
“It’s been hard work this year, I’ve been pushed all the way and obviously with the double-header this weekend I knew the stakes were that much higher,” the British driver said after saluting her Veloce team over the radio for a “mega” effort that saw her out-battle her title rival and compatriot, Alice Powell.
Austin hosted races on Saturday and Sunday to conclude the eight-contest series. They were the first W Series races outside Europe and the 23-year-old looked at home in Texas, winning the opener in hot and sunny weather and the second in cooler and wetter conditions.
Chadwick and Powell, of Racing X, were level on points at the top of the standings entering the weekend but Chadwick’s victory on Saturday gave her a 10-point lead. Chadwick, who hails from Bath, started on pole on Sunday while the Oxford-born Powell languished in eighth on the grid and never threatened to make up the gap. She ended in sixth.
“It’s been really tough all year – massive congratulations to Alice, she’s pushed me all the way this year,” Chadwick said. Winning by almost five seconds, she led from start to finish in the race, which lasted 30 minutes plus one lap.
Abbi Pulling, an 18-year-old reserve driver from Lincolnshire, was an impressive runner-up for Puma while Emma Kimiläinen, of the Ecurie team, was third. The Finn also finished third overall.
W Series drivers use identical F3 cars. The move to F1 weekends this year is a step up for the series, which spent its inaugural season in 2019 supporting DTM German touring cars. Last year’s competition was cancelled because of the pandemic.
Holding two rounds in Texas to conclude the season is a sign of the importance of the American market to the series. It launched in 2018 with the goal of increasing female participation in motorsport so that drivers’ potential can be fully realised.
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Along with $500,000 (£363,000) in prize money for Chadwick come 15 FIA super licence points – a passport towards participation at a higher level, with 40 over three seasons the minimum required to race in Formula One. Only two women have ever started F1 Grand Prix races: Maria Teresa de Filippis in 1958 and Lella Lombardi in the mid-70s.
As Chadwick stepped out of her car, pumping her fist in delight, she was congratulated by George Russell, the Williams F1 driver. Chadwick is a development driver for the team. “I don’t know what’s next but I’m going to enjoy this moment,” she said.