Williams’ development driver Jamie Chadwick has triumphed in the inaugural W-series championship, beating off stiff competition from a hand picked selection of the world’s best female racing drivers, sealing herself a $500k prize pot with which to further her racing career.
The W-series was launched earlier this year to a good deal of controversy over whether it was right to segregate women in motorsports rather than promoting them in the wider world of racing.
But Chadwick’s F1 role at Williams and the numerous other roles other drivers in the series have earned via the heightened profile of what is essentially an F3 championship vindicates the decision of the organisers and promoters to branch out and create the women only competition.
Chadwick clinched the championship in an unusually nervy performance at the finale at Brands Hatch, where having qualified on pole she led the opening laps, followed closely by fellow Brit Alice Powell and Finlands Emma Kimilainen who no doubt knew that to win the championship, Chadwick more than likely had to finish and would jump out of their way should they try and attack.
And so it was, when that attack came, albeit with some resistance, Chadwick gave the pair ample room to pass and the champion-elect was down to third, ahead of her only rival for the title, Beitske Visser in fourth.
Holland’s Visser knew that to win the championship she’d not only have to make the pass on Chadwick to demote her to fourth, but she’d also have to catch and pass the leading pair to win the race which, as the 30 minutes counted down, became increasingly unlikely.
In the closing few minutes a safety car threatened to shake up the order in a frantic final few laps to give Visser a glimmer of hope of the win she needed, but it wasn’t to be – the front two were too quick and they edged away to take the top two places on the podium, with Visser edging past a nervous Chadwick to take third.
“It was the worst 30 minutes of my life” Chadwick said after the race, admitting she had “mixed emotions” about winning the performance in such an unusually hesitant manner.
However, when she reflects on rounding off the year with admittedly her first non-podium finish of the season in possibly her worst race of the year, she should be delighted that she put in a performance good enough to take the title.
And that’s all that mattered.