The double W Series champion Jamie Chadwick has insisted she can make it to Formula One within five years, rejecting scepticism that such a goal was achievable made by the Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali. Chadwick said the remarks only offered greater motivation to prove him wrong.
F1 has not had a female driver compete at a grand prix since Lella Lombardi raced in Austria in 1976 but Chadwick remains convinced she can make. She conceded, though, there is still a long way to go despite her remarkable success in the all-female W Series.
“It doesn’t really bother me to be honest,” she said of Domenicali’s comments that he did not believe a woman would make it to F1 within the next five years. “It is motivation if nothing else.”
“My goal is definitely to try and make it in five years. There is a lot I need to achieve in that time but my goal is to try and go through the correct feeder series and have success to be in F1 within five years.”
The W Series was created to give female drivers a platform to show off their skills and has proved successful, now operating as part of F1 support races. Chadwick won the first two seasons and has since been taken on as a development driver by the Williams F1 team. This year, with five wins from six races, she could wrap up her third title at the next round in Singapore on 2 October.
Yet despite her success, the step up to the F3 and F2 feeder series has remained elusive, with a lack of track time compared to her male competitors cited as a major reason. On Wednesday she took part in an Indy Lights test for Andretti racing at Sebring in Florida. Indy Lights is the feeder series for Indy Car and Chadwick believes a drive there next season in the heavier, more physically demanding cars, would be the perfect precursor to then returning to Europe to race in F3.
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“I felt comfortable with the car,” she said. “The main thing is that with the long races and the amount of testing you get in Indy Lights it could put me in a really good position for the year after to make another step up, having had that extra time to develop both physically and as a driver.”
The W Series CEO, Catherine Bond Muir, noted that Chadwick was already having to play catch up to her male counterparts in terms of how far she had advanced in the sport and that there was a long way to go before racing presented a level playing field.
“Jamie has not had the amount of time in a car because historically the money has never ever gone towards the girls,” she said. “That is changing but it is happening slowly because the whole of the structure of motorsport needs to change and people’s views and opinions need to change.”