Paired up with F1’s double header in Austria, W Series kicked off their Round 1 this past weekend at the Red Bull Ring. Emily Cary highlights some key drivers.
Round 1 of W Series was this weekend in Austria. This is the second season of the race series, but their first racing with the F1 schedule. I have chosen to highlight four different drivers and their fantastic first weekend at the Red Bull Ring.
Jamie Chadwick is a 27-year-old driver from the United Kingdom and driver for Veloce Racing in W Series and Extreme E. She is the reigning W Series champion from 2019, which makes her the biggest competition in the field this year. Other than her excellent championship win in W Series, another big career moment for Chadwick was when she became the first woman to win a British F3 race at Brands Hatch in 2018. In practice, Chadwick showed good pace, ending the session in P4. She wasn’t able to match this pace in qualifying and was uncharacteristically slow, only ending up P8. Her team later discovered her lack of pace was due to a crack in the carbon pipe that was fixed before the start of the race. Because she wasn’t starting in a prime position, she had a lot of work ahead of her on Saturday.
Chadwick gained a lot of places at the start but then got hit from behind by Jessica Hawkins. As a result, Jamie tumbled down to P18. Hawkins was later given a 30 second time penalty from the incident. Chadwick started charging through the pack, setting fastest laps but had to slow down after she got a black and white flag for track limits. A combination of retirements and safety cars helped Jamie overtake many drivers on the grid to eventually end the 30-minute race in 6th after being 18th at the start. While she didn’t have a great weekend overall, she had great moments in her race after having a bad qualifying. She will bounce back and come back stronger next week.
Ayla Agren is a Norwegian driver for M. Forbes Motorsport. It is the 27-year-old’s first year in W Series, but isn’t new to racing; in 2014, she won the F1600 championship. Another one is just being selected for W series and being one of the 18 girls selected. Practice was rough for Agren as she was only able to reach 17th. She was a bit off the pace during qualifying but could secure P10, which is a good position for a rookie in their first qualifying session. Ayla stalled on the grid but was able to come back into the race in last place. She was able to make it back to her starting position with a relatively quiet race. This was a good first race out for the Norwegian, and hopefully, she can carry some confidence into next weekend.
Alice Powell, a 28-year-old Racing X driver from the United Kingdom, was the standout driver this weekend. Outside of W Series, she’s participated in many different Formula Renault Series, even winning Formula Renault UK BARC. In 2019, she won the final race of the W Series season, proving she has what it takes to be a championship contender. She topped practice beating out the closest person by .149 seconds. Powell continued this pace in qualifying, where she took the inaugural pole position of the season. At the start of the race, Powell got ahead of the pack beautifully. She led the whole race and wasn’t really challenged by Moore behind. The safety car made her lose her nearly 3 second lead on the rest of the pack, but that didn’t stop her from winning her second race in W Series and taking the championship lead. Overall she had a fantastic race, and she couldn’t have done anything better. She just needs to continue this good streak next weekend to keep her lead.
Irina Sidorkova is the youngest driver on the W Series grid. The now 18-year-old Russian is part of the W Series Academy and races under that team for her first season. She was the 2012 champion of Estonia and was even on the podium in the Russian Series of Circuit Race in her young career. Practice went decently ok for her as she finished P12 only about a second and a half off the pace of Alice Powell. In qualifying, she had similar pace to Agren, starting the race from 15th. Sidorkova had a great race on Saturday. After a solid start, she made up positions in the opening laps and kept that consistency for the whole 30-minute race. She finished in 8th, getting points in her first race in W Series. As a rookie, she had a solid race showing her skills, but she needs to work on qualifying to start from better positions.
This weekend was a learning curve for everyone, but they definitely proved W Series deserves their spot on F1 weekends.
I can’t wait for the next round in Austria (02-03 July) to see more of what these drivers can do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am Emily Cary, I am 18 years old, and I am from the United Kingdom. I have a strong passion for Formula 1. My favorite drivers are George Russell, Alex Albon, Charles Leclerc, and Max Verstappen. I am in my final year of Six Form before going to university to study PE with teacher training. I like to spend time with my friends, family and playing sports like dance and cricket. My passion for Formula 1 comes from the thrill and the excitement of watching the drivers drive and fight for their position on the track, also seeing the competitiveness and the drive that the drives have. Also, seeing the drivers doing the best they can to succeed and prove themself within the sport. This is the first article that I am writing about Formula 1, and hopefully, it will not be the last.
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