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Jamie Chadwick on life in IndyNXT and what the future holds

Last month, Females in Motorsport’s very own Manvi Mittal caught up with IndyNXT podium finisher, and now IndyNXT race winner - Jamie Chadwick. 

If you’d like to check out the podcast, you can give it a listen here!

Manvi: Does it feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders now that you've stepped foot on that podium?

Jamie: It does in a way, because I know that the speed's been there and internally we know what we've been capable of, but it means nothing when you look at a result sheet at the end of it. From a more external point of view, just a tick in that box. From a personal point of view, I just feel like we've had a good speed all year and I now want to use that to ultimately get more podiums and ideally race wins. It's a bit of a weird feeling because it definitely feels like a weight, but it also feels like something that, it's onto the next set. It's not something I think too much about.

Manvi: It was a very interesting race. By lap 10 or 11, I believe you were already in the podium positions, but then you had to defend your position through multiple restarts. At least two restarts, if I'm correct. What was going on in your head during those crucial moments to be like, ‘I have to protect this position’?

Jamie: I wasn't thinking too much about it. Like when you've got speed and you've got performance in your car, which I felt like we had all weekend, it’s a level of comfort that you go into. And I felt very comfortable in that race. Potentially there was more of an opportunity to challenge the front two, that I felt maybe I was a bit less aggressive with. We went more for the podium rather than making any big mistake. But still just the nature of these IndyNXT races - anything can happen. You can feel comfortable one minute, but you're not gonna be for the whole race, that's for sure. I've learned a lot over the last year about the racecraft and what it takes. It didn't phase me too much, kind of being up at the front for once.

Blackbook Motorsport

Manvi: IndyNXT is one of those series that is very, very competitive, which is why it's so much fun for a fan to watch. But I can imagine for everybody going up the Indy ladder, it's exciting, but it's also nerve-wracking and all these different emotions.

Jamie: It is competitive now and we're seeing the grid's a lot bigger than it's been previously. But I love the racing. What I like the most about it is, and for anyone watching, it's quite a long race. It's probably 45 minutes to an hour in length, but it's a sprint race. You don't have a huge amount of tyre degradation. You're pushing every lap. And so that lends itself to ultimately more mistakes from people, more opportunity in a way. From a driving point of view, it's just intense because you are really pushing for so long of the race.

Manvi: You are one of the most, I would say, celebrated female drivers in motorsport currently. And I'm sure you've heard this question before, but I would love to know, do you ever feel, especially given that you're in IndyNXT now, that you have a point to prove for all female drivers? I know that there's been a lot of talk about female drivers now with F1 Academy. And of course, you've been a W Series champion three times. . . Do you ever feel like there is this pressure that is laying on you just to prove a point about female drivers and their capabilities?

Jamie: There's definitely a pressure for that. I really try not to feel it because I don't think it's fair. It's not fair on the other female drivers. We look at the talent that's coming through. And it's just because we're such a minority, it's the way it is. But I had a tough year last year and no one's talking about the guy that's finished 16th, 17th, 18th when I'm finishing 15th. But just naturally, there is a spotlight on women in the sport. I've not noticed it just with me, but it's across the board and that is frustrating. But at the same time, I've got to try and do the best I can. I fully understand and know what women are capable of in this sport. And I want to do the absolute best I can to reflect that. But if it's not me, if I'm not having a good day, I don't have good results, then that really shouldn't reflect on the others coming through. And we're getting better at that. We're seeing so many talented drivers coming through and that's what I'm excited about. I just focus on me for where I can - I know what I'm capable of. I know what the rest of the women are capable of in this sport. And that's all we can focus on.

Travis Hinkle

Manvi: Like you said, if you have a bad weekend, it's like, oh, it becomes this whole thing about you - the poster woman for all female drivers. It's not fair to you. It's not fair to the other drivers. I would love to get your thoughts on F1 Academy now. And if you think that in your opinion and your experience, it will fare better than W Series.

Jamie: It's a great evolution on what we had. And I mean, I can never personally, I can never criticise W Series. There were definitely things that may have been done better, but at its time and what it did for particularly myself, but the other women in the sport, it revolutionised women's motorsport from my point of view. It was incredible what the guys and girls behind that series were able to do. I'll forever be a bit sad about how it all ended. But on the flip side, from a sporting point of view, I'm very grateful to see it reformed into what it is with F1 Academy now.

And with F1 behind it and Susie, it's incredible. I was at the race in Miami, I'm doing some work with Lia Block at Williams, and it's insane. It's just a whole evolution on everything. And having particularly the F1 teams involved, but also you see the feeder series teams. So, top-level teams from Formula 2, Formula 3, supporting these drivers. That's going to really help them develop. And when you look at the age category of them, Lia, for example, is 17. For her to experience this is going to put her in good stead for the future when she moves on and whatever comes next.


Manvi: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I always joke that it's going to be on my gravestone that W Series ran, so F1 Academy could walk. Because I really believe that I don't think F1 Academy would have, like you said, evolved or even come up if W Series did not exist, because it kind of really started that conversation in the first place. Now, of course, you went to IndyNXT as a series champion, and then all of a sudden after three years, you were a rookie again. What was that adjustment like of being a race winner, being the best, and then kind of starting in a new country and starting, as a rookie again?

Jamie: Honestly, I loved it. I really enjoyed it. I loved the challenge. I loved, okay, the first race, I was like, ‘okay, I'm not sure how to do this’. I've committed to this and I've got my big DHL branded car and it was all a lot of hype and excitement. I liked the challenge and I liked the fact that I can get my teeth into this. And I knew what I needed to do. It wasn't like I felt lost with where I was at. I knew what the steps were to get to where I needed to be. And I just needed to make those steps with the team and in myself. 

It was a really nice feeling getting a podium at the weekend because I forgot what that felt like. I forgot the feeling of having success. And what I like the feeling of is constantly still having something to work on.

The external pressure was the bit that was frustrating. It was a tough year, but I didn't want that to reflect on the others that had done W Series or everyone else because everyone has a different journey and a pathway. I'm just excited and enjoying the one that I'm on currently.

Manvi: And now that you're racing in America, do you see your current pathway in the US? Or are open - you would be open to racing in formula series again? 

Jamie: Very open. I've gone on this pathway that is pushing me towards being in the States, but there's still a lot I need to achieve and work on before even that's possible - for example, IndyCar. So, I'm very open. I want to compete at the highest level where I can. I love sports cars. There's so many bucket-list races that I've got on my ideal list.

So there's a lot that I still would love to do and achieve, but I feel like what I'm learning in IndyNXT and how I'm able to develop as a driver and yeah, just generally improve and develop, will hopefully put me in good stead wherever the opportunities lie for the next step.

After a very strong start to the season, Jamie is currently 5th in the IndyNXT standings. The series will next race at Mid-Ohio on July 7th.

Cover Image Credit: IndyNXT


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