W Series 2021: Jamie Chadwick and Alice Powell in Stateside championship battle

Alice Powell (left) and Jamie Chadwick (right)
Alice Powell (left) and Jamie Chadwick (right) have dominated the 2021 W Series with five wins in six rounds between them

Defending 2019 W Series champion Jamie Chadwick knows the pressure is on to earn back-to-back championship victories.

The 2021 W Series champion will be crowned this weekend at a double-header finale to the series at the Circuit of the Americas (Cota) in Austin, Texas, and it’s all come down to two Britons.

Chadwick, 23, and Alice Powell, 28, will compete for the title and the £400,000 prize money.

“The stakes feel a bit higher this year, being on the F1 package and the super-licence points, so it will be a big thing to win,” says Chadwick.

The drivers are tied at the top of the championship standings on 109 points after six rounds, 34 points ahead of nearest rival Emma Kimilainen.

A race win earns 25 points with 18 for second and 15 for third, so it could come down to the final race on Sunday.

“Cota is a track I’ve never raced at before. It’s a high-speed but fairly technical circuit so I’m looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into that,” said Powell.

Chadwick is determined to go into the weekend with “as positive mindset as possible”.

“It would mean everything to defend my title this year. We’ve worked hard and especially it’s been a tough-fought season between Alice and me, so it will be a huge thing to come out on top,” she said.

For Powell, a championship win would be sweet after two DNFs early on in the 2019 season destroyed her championship chances.

“It would mean a hell of a lot,” said Powell.

“I had a long period of time out of racing and as time went on I didn’t necessarily expect to be out driving again.

“W Series came along and kickstarted my career and has given me the chance to race, not only as part of a Formula 1 support [races this season], but to race and potentially win another championship.”

Total domination

Chadwick, from Bath, and Powell, from Oxford, have dominated the second W Series season (after the 2020 campaign was written off by the coronavirus pandemic).

Chadwick has been on pole position three times and converted two of those to wins, at the Red Bull Ring in Austria and the Hungaroring in Hungary.

“There’s been a lot of confidence from both of our sides and it’s been closely fought between the pair of us,” said Chadwick.

“I did expect there to be a few other names up there as well but it’s nice it’s still gone down to the wire.”

Powell, who races for Racing X, has been the polesitter twice; the first of two races at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone. She won both races as well as a third, at Zandvoort, where she started in second.

“These are not easy cars to drive, they are heavy cars so we’ve managed to extrapolate the pace out of the cars pretty well,” said Powell.

“Getting pole position, you need to get the best out of the car and the tyre and it’s a big combination, so we’ve done a good job with that and had a good race pace from my side of things as well.

“I think there’s probably more pressure on Jamie as she’s reigning champion and defending her title and I’m trying to steal it effectively.

“The only pressure [on me] is I want to win it myself, but there’s no pressure from outside or anyone saying: ‘You must win or you’re not going to be racing, etc.'”

Chadwick, who also races for her Veloce Racing team in Extreme-E as well, is another who says the most pressure she faces comes from within.

“It’s great I can be in a position to contend for the title in the last race and fingers crossed we can come out strong,” she said.

Jamie Chadwick (car number 55) in action
Chadwick races in car 55 for Veloce Racing and Alice Powell in car 27 for Racing X

The ‘W’ in F1

The progression for a young racing series has been huge, having gone from launching in 2018 to supporting DTM German Touring Car Championship in 2019 and now supporting Formula 1 at a number of its races across the 2021 season.

“It’s been an unbelievable experience – it has been a big level up I’d say being on the Formula 1 [calendar] so that’s fantastic,” said Chadwick.

“It’s incredible what the series has done for all of us as drivers, but also for women in general in motorsport.”

Powell agrees: “It’s been a great season. F1 have been incredible and hugely supportive, and [they] see the great racing we produce.”

Crucially for drivers’ future ambitions, valuable FIA super-licence points are available to the victors this year.

The series winner will earn 15 super-licence points, with 12 for second and 10 for third.

The total needed to race in F1 is 40 points over a three-year period, with 25 needed for practice sessions.

“If I do win, hopefully it can be a good springboard into something,” says Chadwick.

And Powell is confident a championship win can lead to more opportunities in the racing world.

“It will definitely open more doors. It did finishing third in the first year, so I’d like to think winning the championship will open even more.”

Crossing the pond

Cota will be the first race for the series outside Europe and the pair are aware of the potential impact of raising the profile of W Series and female participation in motorsport in general.

“Going Stateside is a big thing and it’s a different audience for fans attending the race meeting to watch us racing first hand,” said Powell.

“Hopefully it will show the young females there it is possible to race.”

Chadwick added: “We all know how big motorsport is in America and for us to be branching out to that part of the world is fantastic.

“W Series is definitely going from strength to strength and starting to make a difference to get girls involved in the sport.”

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