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From grassroots motorsport to competing on a global stage: W Series 2021 contender Jamie Chadwick

Jamie Chadwick is, arguably, one of the most well-known female racing drivers right now. From winning the inaugural W Series championship in 2019 to landing a spot as a Williams Racing Development driver, the athlete has shot to fame and is now an inspiration to women across the globe.

The Veloce Racing driver started karting at a young age and didn’t want to be a racing driver for a long time. It hadn’t crossed her mind that this was a prospect, even at the age of 14/15. It just hadn’t sunk in.

“It’s very psychological as a sport - the pressure is always very high,” Jamie tells Females in Motorsport. “I’m always ensuring that I’m ready as much as possible.”

After winning her 2019 W Series title, Jamie was criticised for not making the step up to FIA Formula 3 or Formula 2. Why didn’t she? It’s simple: she didn’t feel ready and lacked the funding too, despite W Series offering generous prize money for its top-10 in the standings.

After the all-female series stepped away from the track in 2020 due to COVID-19, Jamie took to different championships including FIA Asian Formula 3 and Formula Regional Championship Europe. She came fourth in the first but failed to mark her territory racing for PREMA in FRECA and only scored one podium.

“It’s difficult as money is a limitation for everyone in the sport, not just women,” she says. “The funding is the biggest barrier for everyone but because the talent pool for women is smaller naturally it doesn’t help.”

With a mixed 2020 behind her, she made the brave choice to defend her W Series title this year (as well as competing in Extreme E) - a move that could push her driving career to the next level.

Now, Jamie is tantalisingly close to doing just that. With two races left, she’s level on points at the top of the table with fellow British racing driver Alice Powell.

“I’m definitely just going to drive my best and hope for the best too,” she says. “It’s an unusual situation as there does feel like there’s a big gap between the penultimate round and the title decider, so it does crop up of how much you’ve prepared and how much downtime you’ve had. It’s all about the preparation and being as ready as you can be, in whatever way.

“I’m not going to change my approach; I’ll keep it to what I’ve always previously done but at the same time I can only control what I can control and that’s to go there and do my best and it’ll be what it will be.”

To understand Chackwick as a driver, we go back to her first title win in the British GT Championship where she shot to the top of the GT4 standings. Even at this point, she was entering the history books, this time as the first woman to win the championship. This, with no doubt, was a landmark moment in her journey.

“I look back on that as it was the first time I thought things were getting real,” she says. “So I’ll always have fond memories, despite it feeling like ages ago. It was the biggest turning point in my career at that time.”

Now, with experience in multiple international single-seater championships to her name, Jamie knows the physical and mental toll racing takes on the human body. Alongside her gym training, she’s also found a love for triathlons too.

“I do triathlons for several reasons,” she says. “Partly because of training, and to make it more fun, as you have got something to look forward to, but also that competition element is something I really get a buzz off.

“It’s good to push my body more than when I’m in a race car. I like to push my body further to see what I am capable of, and I enjoy it too which is a great balance.”

Training is an essential part of being a racing driver to be able to perform at your best and be on form all year.

“In between races I continually work as hard as I can to sustain a good mindset and be as relaxed as possible. But I really do enjoy it; it’s such a cool thing that I am able to do.

As if her year hasn’t been busy enough, Jamie has still been active with her Williams Racing duties.

“I’m really enjoying my role, and it’s been significant to my career in the past few years,” she says. “I want to be able to push to a greater role where I’m in the car more regularly. A lot rides on the end of the season and hopefully opportunities arise from the back of that for the future.”

There’s no doubt that whatever the outcome of the W Series decider this weekend, Jamie and her fellow racing drivers have a bright future ahead of them in motorsport and beyond. They’re history makers, inspirations and should be congratulated for changing the face of female sport.

“There’s a lot riding on this last weekend,” she says. “W Series has been a massive springboard in my career so far so it’ll be great to honour that and do bigger things but we’ll see, there’s still a lot to ride on this year.”

Bring on the US Grand Prix.


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