W Series Styria: Powell dominates frantic opening race

Alice Powell took the first victory of the 2021 W Series season in Austria, controlling an otherwise chaotic race from pole position to the chequered flag.

Powell got a quick launch from pole to ensure she held the lead from second-placed Sarah Moore into Turn 1. Meanwhile, series rookie Belen Garcia initially lost third place to Beitske Visser at the start, but got the Dutch driver back later in the opening lap.

Reigning champion Jamie Chadwick had a good first lap as she improved from eighth on the grid to fifth place. But at Turn 1 on the second lap she was rear-ended by Jess Hawkins and spun around, falling to the back of the field.

 

At the front, Powell started to stretch out a one-second lead over Moore, who was coming under steady pressure from Garcia. But after setting an early fastest lap, Garcia then had a few wide moments as she tried to follow in Moore’s dirty air, and started coming under attack herself from Visser.

On lap 10, Garcia then braked too late for Turn 6 and ran through the gravel, dropping her to ninth and promoting Visser up to third. All the while, Powell was continuing to set fastest laps at the front and increase her gap over Moore to the tune of 2.5 seconds.

That gap was eliminated on lap 14 however, when Marta Garcia retired on the side of the track with a mechanical problem and brought out the safety car.

 

At the restart, Powell fended off Moore to maintain the lead, but Visser was spun out of third by Emma Kimilainen. Kimilainen moved up to third herself, but with a broken front wing from the collision she rapidly dropped back in the final few laps.

Fabienne Wohlwend was the first to pass, taking away third by the end of the first green flag lap. On the following lap Kimilainen was passed by B. Garcia, Hawkins and Miki Koyama, then dropped out of the points altogether when her damaged front wing detached on the final lap.

As Powell took the flag to win, Moore finished second for her first W Series podium ahead of Wohlwend in third. B. Garcia recovered from her off to take fourth place from Hawkins and Koyama, and Chadwick took advantage of the hectic final laps to climb back up to seventh. Nerea Marti, Ira Sidorkova and Gosia Rdest rounded out the points.

Round 2 of the 2021 W Series championship takes place on 2–3 July, once again at the Red Bull Ring in support of the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix.

UPDATE: Jess Hawkins was given a drive-through penalty, converted to a 30 second time penalty, after the race for her collision with Jamie Chadwick. The penalty drops Hawkins to 16th in the results, promoting Miki Koyama to fifth and Ayla Agren to tenth inside the points.

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