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Jamie Chadwick says she has almost certainly raced for the last time in W Series as she tries to “take the next step” on the ladder to Formula One.
The 23-year-old from Bath wrapped up her second title in the all-female series in Texas last weekend, winning both races of a season-deciding double-header to pip compatriot Alice Powell in the final standings. And while Chadwick said the series was “growing unbelievably fast” and was “full of incredible talent”, she needed to make the move now to keep up her momentum.
Chadwick’s second W Series win guaranteed her £363,000 in prize money, which she will reinvest in her career, as well as 15 FIA super licence points that she can bank towards F1. Drivers need 40 points to race in motorsport’s elite category, and at least 25 to take part in a practice session. Chadwick, who is a development driver for Williams F1, would be unable to win any more super licence points if she stayed in W Series, a rule effectively put in place by the FIA to stop drivers from winning the series repeatedly and using the points to qualify for F1.
She therefore needs to make a move this winter, most likely to Formula Four, Three or Two, where she would race against men, many of whom she faced in junior formulae. Chadwick admitted she would feel a sense of pressure representing W Series and female drivers next season.
“I want to represent W Series in the best way possible,” she told Telegraph Sport at an end-of-season W Series dinner in Austin. “If I go into any other championship and do a bad job, that will reflect badly on the series, so I do feel the pressure quite strongly in that sense. But with the right preparation, and the right support around me, I believe I can do a good job. So I think it’s just about making sure that we make the right decision to give me the best possible opportunity. If that’s F3 or F2, for instance, although they are spec series [same cars], the team’s preparation makes a big difference. So putting yourself in the best environment is important and making sure I can do that off the back of this year is going to be crucial.”
Chadwick says her representatives have been in discussions with teams already, although she had not been party to them as she had focused entirely on finishing the season strongly. But she said she felt her winnings from W Series would be “a big help, although if I threw out the figures for what it costs to run a driver in those series, it’s significant. Beyond the prize money, though, the exposure and the support that I’ve been able to generate can be a help”.
Chadwick said she expected to encounter some jealousy wherever she ended up, with some deeming W Series to be a weak formula. But she said attitudes were changing and there was “far more goodwill than jealousy” these days.
“The truth is, W Series is getting stronger and stronger,” she said. “You look at someone like [18-year-old] Abbi Pulling, for instance. Or [19-year-old] Nerea Marti. There’s so much talent coming through and it’s really good to see.” In the meantime, she said she would “push for a more integrated role” at Williams, while trying to prepare herself for next year. Chadwick said she took confidence from having delivered on the biggest stage of her career.
“The weekend definitely hasn’t sunk in yet. It was such a big build-up and then the weekend all happened so quickly. Racing in front of 140,000 fans at the Circuit of the Americas, as part of a Formula One weekend, was an unreal experience. And I’m proud because I think in 2019, although I won, I actually didn’t cope with the pressure as well [as she did last weekend]. So it’s nice to know that two years later, I delivered under the biggest pressure of my life.”