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Jessica Hawkins: "W Series has proved it deserves space in the F1 paddock"

Jessica Hawkins is one of nineteen talented drivers competing in the 2021 W Series championship. Alongside her participation in the all-female racing series, in May this year, it was announced that Jessica would become a driver ambassador for the Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team.

“To be honest I wasn't too busy in the first few months of 2021 and then I went from doing nearly nothing for a year to being extremely busy and barely having time to breathe, but I wouldn't have it any other way.”

For racing driver Jessica Hawkins, 2021 has certainly provided its fair share of surprises and opportunities, as a result, the Brit has learnt the importance of juggling different disciplines.

“Forward planning hasn't always been a strong point of mine, but I've had to do it this year.

“I’ve learned from previous years that there is obviously so much planning that goes on here [in racing] so I’ve just tried to ensure that I get to make the most of this - what is going to be an incredible year.”

No doubt a high point in Jessica’s ‘incredible’ year so far is her appointment as a driver ambassador for Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team, but how difficult was it for her to say yes?

“Firstly, it was very easy for me to say yes. This role has been spoken about going back maybe 6 months, maybe even more, ago. It is only recently that it has crossed the line.

“Joining Aston Martin is an amazing opportunity for me, and yes, as you can imagine, it was very easy to say yes to the opportunity. Everyone has been so welcoming, even within a few hours of being at the track in Baku I really felt massively a part of the family and everybody was so so helpful. I feel like they have kind of taken me under their wing and they want to help me as well, so that’s good.”

Earlier this year, Aston Martin also announced a new partnership with Racing Pride, a LGBTQ+ charity, developed in collaboration with Stonewall UK, to promote inclusivity across motorsport.

“I have got a girlfriend and that’s not a secret, she’s my first girlfriend and the whole process was really quite easy for me, but I appreciate that it may not be for others.

“For someone that may be struggling, it is going to be nice for people to know that there are people to go to and that there are figurehead companies such as Aston Martin Cognizant Racing that are leading the way and driving diversity and inclusion forward.”

Alongside her duties with Aston Martin, Jessica is competing in W Series’ eight race calendar.

“I owe W Series a lot, because I had stopped racing for several years before W Series came out, I genuinely would not be racing now without them.

“Unfortunately, I did not have the luxury of racing in between seasons [2019 and 2021], I could have really done with back-to-back seasons, but I understand why we were not able to run last year, the grid is just so competitive and most of the drivers have been regularly racing.”

Despite being unable to hold a second W Series season in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, the championship has returned bigger and better than ever in 2021. For the entirety of its calendar this year, W Series will serve as an official Formula One support race.

“They [W Series] proved to everyone that they deserve this space in the Formula One paddock and after such a successful 2019, there was only one place for the championship to go because the first season was such a success.

“Formula One would not be hosting the series if they did not believe it was worthy of a place here, it speaks for itself.”

The inclusion of W Series within the Formula One paddock also serves as recognition of the greater action required to promote inclusion in the industry and at grassroots level.

“I remember when I first started karting and there were maybe one or two other females that I knew of within the sport - whether they were drivers or mechanics. But certainly now, there are so many more females within the sport and I think it is just that people are not realising that there is a place for females in motorsport and gender is irrelevant.

“If you’re a good engineer or strategist, your gender does not matter. You will be taken regardless of your gender. More women are starting to show an interest in the sport because motorsport was always seen as a male-dominated sport and now it [W Series] is showing women that they can be whoever they want to be.”

And for young racers interested in following in Jess’ footsteps, the British racer offered some sage advice.

“If racing is definitely what you want to do, you should work hard because hard work goes a very long way in motorsport and if you want it bad enough, you should never give up.”

Follow Jess on Instagram and Twitter to discover more of her work with Aston Martin and to follow her progress in W Series 2021!

All imagery is courtesy of Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 Team and W Series.

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