Today at the legendary Brands Hatch circuit, 21-year-old Jamie Chadwick won the first ever single-seater series for female drivers only, the 2019 W Series championship.
Having started from pole position, following a scintillating lap in the dying minutes of this morning’s qualifying session, she took the lead at the start of this afternoon’s race ahead of Alice Powell, who had qualified alongside her on the front row. Esmee Hawkey, having qualified in third, stalled at the start and ended up last on lap one. Third on lap one therefore was Emma Kimilainen.
Jamie, Alice and Emma circulated at the front for the first 10 minutes, in close formation but in line astern, the three of them mastering the testing twists, turns and undulations of the famous Kentish racetrack with impressive speed and precision. Then, essaying an opportunistic manoeuvre on the championship leader, perhaps figuring that she would not wish to risk her championship by resisting too stoutly, Alice hurled her car inside Jamie’s on the entry to Paddock Hill, ran wheel to wheel with her into the downhill compression then up the hill to Druids, and made her move stick as the two cars ran around that slowest corner on the circuit. At the same time Emma also managed to pass Jamie, demoting her to third. Championship rival Beitske Visser was just behind in fourth.
With 10 minutes to go, the Safety Car was deployed as a result of a spin by Miki Koyama, closing up the field for the final charge to the line. Miki’s car took four minutes to be moved to a place of safety, leaving just six minutes remaining of the allocated 30 (plus one lap) when the message came “Safety Car in this lap”.
Following the restart, as so often this season, Jamie and Beitske were now running nose to tail, the Dutchwoman determined to wrest third place from her British rival despite the fact that doing so would not be enough to change the championship standings. With three laps to go, Beitske took the final podium position but Jamie’s fourth place finish was enough to secure the championship.
Catherine Bond Muir, W Series Chief Executive Officer, said:
“What a brilliant race, and what a wonderful season!
“Alice drove superbly today, finally taking the race victory that she’s been threatening to deliver all season, and Jamie capped a hugely impressive summer with an extremely mature drive to fourth place, thereby sewing up the first ever W Series championship. Well done!”
Dave Ryan, W Series Race Director, said:
“After six great races – seven if you include the experimental non-championship reverse-grid race we ran at Assen – Jamie today converted her championship lead into a championship victory. She’s driven with impressive poise all summer, always fast yet invariably measured, and there’s no doubt that she’s a serious prospect for more senior formulae in the future. She’s still only 21, after all.”
Jamie Chadwick said:
“To be the inaugural W Series champion is simply unbelievable. It’ll sink in soon I’m sure, but it hasn’t yet.
“This year has been a whirlwind, and today’s race was more intense than any other racing day I’ve ever had. Even though I finished only fourth, I was just so happy finally to cross the line and secure the championship.
“The whole W Series experience has been incredible. At the beginning of the year I thought it just might be a great season. I suspected that W Series had the potential to be something big, but I never expected it to be this big. Obviously, each race has got bigger and better but coming here to Brands Hatch, my home circuit, well, I’ve simply never experienced anything like it. I’ve never felt attention from the spectators as much as I did today, and that really is a credit to W Series. It’s been an incredible opportunity for all of us, and the things I’ve been able to go on to do alongside W Series have made it by far the best year of my career so far.”
Michael Bradley Photography