All-Female W Series Becomes A Reality As Jamie Chadwick Wins Inaugural Hockenheim Race
In recent months it’s been very hard to ignore W Series, the all-new, all-female racing category. It has been divisive too. But it is also now a reality, as the DTM-supporting championship with single spec F3-type cars has completed its first race at Hockenheim. As a few anticipated, reigning MRF champion and BRDC Formula 3 race winner Jamie Chadwick became the first ever W Series race victor, indeed she topped every session including sodden qualifying.
However it was no cakewalk. She lost the lead early on to Sarah Moore by running wide at the hairpin first time through in greasy conditions. And while she retook the lead almost immediately after a subsequent safety car period, former GP3 driver Alice Powell assumed the chaser role and got onto Chadwick’s tail mid-race. Powell finished just 1.3 seconds shy, while Marta Garcia also was close at hand in third, a mere 1.6s off Chadwick. “The win feels great,” Chadwick said. “The conditions were tricky which made things a bit more difficult but 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.”
Further down the pack there was plenty of spirited wheel-to-wheel action, with the only collision of note happening on lap one, when Megan Gilkes braked too late and speared into the side of Emma Kimiläinen—who was out of position after stalling when fourth on the grid—putting both out and heralding the safety car period mentioned. Beitske Visser finished fourth, holding off Moore who’d lost some places by running wide at the hairpin. Fabienne Wohlwend finished sixth, recovering from a poor launch from the front row alongside Chadwick. Miki Koyama impressed by rising from 17th to finish seventh and setting fastest lap as she did so, while Tasmin Pepper did similar by finishing eighth having started 16th.
The winner’s trophy was awarded on the podium by celebrated former driver Desiré Wilson while Williams F1 deputy team principal Claire Williams was also in attendance. The race got plenty of media coverage, including on free-to-air TV, and the event can be filed as an encouraging start. And what the race represented should not be underestimated. “After a huge amount of hard graft by the W Series team it was truly emotional to see our 18 cars line up on the Hockenheim grid,” said W Series chief executive officer Catherine Bond Muir. “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.”
“I don’t have a lot to say,” added W Series racing director Dave Ryan, “but I do want to say this: I’ve had a lot of highlights in my racing career, but today is right up there.” Round two takes place at Zolder in Belgium on May 18.
Images courtesy of W Series