Jamie Chadwick: W Series Champion 2019 – An Exclusive PitCrew Interview

It has only been a few days since 21-year-old Jamie Chadwick claimed the first ever W Series title, but the notion of being champion is still very surreal for her.

Jamie started karting at 11 years old before competing in the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2013. She then moved into the British GT Championship in 2015 and won the GT4 class, before moving to single-seaters in 2017 racing in BRDC British Formula 3.

2019 has been an incredibly successful year for the young Brit who has won the MRF Challenge, the 24h Nurburgring race and now the W Series title. It seems that nothing can stop her.

After finishing fourth at Brands Hatch and securing enough points to win the championship title, we talked to Jamie about her W Series journey and how much she has achieved this season.

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Kirsty Campbell: We’ve reached the finale in the first season of W Series. It’s been thoroughly enjoyable watching you drive this year. How are you feeling about becoming champion?
Jamie Chadwick: Honestly, it’s all a bit overwhelming at the moment. Not sunk in at all. I’m sure it will do soon! But at the moment, I’m just elated, really, really happy. A lot of hard work has gone into this year, so to have it all come together and be crowned as champion is an awesome feeling.

KC: You’ve managed to score three pole positions, five podiums and two wins. You must be proud of what you’ve managed to achieve this season. How has your team and family’s support helped you through the highs and the lows?
JC: It’s been awesome. As the year goes, it’s been a fantastic year. Obviously the championship is the highlight, but the whole build up and the actual season has been incredible. I’ve been really lucky, I’ve had a lot of support this year, a lot of people around me working very hard to help me progress and make the dream a reality. It’s been an incredible year. As the year’s gone on I’ve been lucky to have the introduction of support from Williams, which has made a big difference, and also Aston Martin. I’ve been very, very lucky, so it’s nice to have that rewarded and share it all with them.

KC: What has been the most challenging aspect of your W Series experience, and in contrast, what as been your favourite moment this season?
JC: I’d say the most challenging race was definitely that last Brands Hatch race. The most challenging aspect overall is probably the fact that it’s not like a normal racing environment where you have your own team, your own independence—you’re sharing everything, you’re travelling together, you’re swapping cars each weekend, nothing’s off limits to anyone else. You’re teammates but racing against each other effectively, so I would say that’s definitely made it quite tough. I’d say the highlight was either the Hockenheim pole or the Brands Hatch pole, and I say that because both situations I felt like that was when the pressure was really on, so to deliver pole position both of those times was a big highlight.

KC: You’ve been neck and neck with Beitske Visser all season. Would you say that this rivalry has helped push your driving skills to the limit?
JC: Yeah, 100%. For sure, when you’re working in that close proximity you find yourself pushing each other along quite a lot and definitely she’s pushed me this year to make sure I’m maximising every race, every result. I think the other drivers as well, some of them that came on strong at the end of the year, also kept us honest. But Beitske for the whole year has been the one that’s been pushing me hard, so it’s been a tough year to maintain the lead over her, and fortunately I managed to do it.

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KC: Do you feel that W Series is the way forward for female racers in this industry? Do you think it is the right stepping stone for women who want to progress into the more established classes?
JC: Yeah, definitely. What W Series is doing is offering a platform for drivers to progress, a platform that a lot of us wouldn’t have otherwise had. So I think that now we’re seeing 20 female racing drivers, racing in Formula 3 cars at a high level, it’s giving them a much greater opportunity to feed into the higher levels of motorsport later on. For me this provided the perfect platform, the perfect stepping stone, so it hopefully do the same for others.

KC: 2019 has been quite a year for you with winning the MRF Challenge and the 24h Nürburgring win, and of course, winning the W Series title. The dream for you, as stated in a Guardian article earlier this month, is to race in Formula One. How did you feel when you got the call about becoming the developmental driver for Williams? Do you see yourself racing in Formula One in the near future?
JC: Absolutely. It was a huge moment getting that call. I think every driver wants to be into Formula One, so to get that first step on the ladder and the first association as a development driver really is a dream come true. You just have to look at some of the drivers that have come through their young driver programme to know it’s a great place to be for any young driver, and for me I feel very much the same. It’s the first step into what will hopefully be a much bigger step in the future.

KC: Which drivers in Formula One (past or present) have influenced you the most in your racing career?
JC: Good question. I’d say maybe from the past—although not so long ago—Alonso’s definitely influenced me. More because I like the way he wants to go and race in a lot of different things. You know, last year he was racing in Le Mans, Daytona, quite a lot of different championships. The fact that he’s open to doing all sorts of different racing is something that inspires me. And present, I’m not too sure. Definitely Hamilton, the way that he’s driving is incredible at the moment.

KC: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into motor racing?
JC: I would say, just get involved. Don’t let anything stop you. It’s a great sport, I’ve loved every minute of it even though I fell into it by accident. It’s a fantastic sport. I’d say work hard, learn from everyone and anything that you can, go get involved!

KC. Do you think you will be returning to the series next year or do you have other plans?
JC: I’m not 100% too sure yet in terms of next year. But I think it’s a great series, it’s a great opportunity. For sure if I can do another season with them, potentially collect some superlicence points next year and get another season of experience, hopefully that will set me on on my way and in good stead for a few years to come.

Interview conducted by James Matthews.

Chadwick crowned W Series champion as Powell takes maiden victory

All eyes were on the two championship leaders at Brands Hatch today as the first ever W Series season came to a close.

The British crowd were certainly in good spirits, waving flags and cheering on the five British drivers in the field, including the championship leader, Jamie Chadwick.

21-year-old Chadwick sat at the top of the scoreboard going into the last race, having scored two pole positions, five podiums and two victories, amounting to 98 points. Beitske Visser, Chadwick’s closest rival in the championship standings, had achieved three podiums and one victory.

Both Chadwick and Visser have fought neck and neck throughout the year which has fuelled a vast amount of anticipation and excitement going into the season finale, with their fight for the W Series crown going right down to the wire.

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Qualifying took place on Sunday morning which ended in a close battle between Chadwick and Alice Powell in the fight for pole position, with Powell initially setting the pace. Chadwick responded and set a blistering lap in the final seconds of the session, setting a laptime of 1:22.425, which placed her on pole.

Powell finished the session in P2 with Esmee Hawkey giving a stunning performance in P3, giving the home crowd something to cheer about. Chadwick’s closest rival Visser finished the session in P5 behind Emma Kimiläinen.

Chadwick had a good start as the lights went out, but Hawkey stalled in her grid box, and as a result ended up at the back of the field. Powell kept second place as Kimiläinen moved up to third, with Visser in fourth place. Fabienne Wohlwend lined up in fifth followed by Vicky Piria, Jess Hawkins, Sarah Moore, Sabre Cook and Marta Garcia rounding out the top ten.

Japanese driver Miki Koyama received a drive through penalty after parking her car over her pit box line after the formation lap, and as a result, ended up in last place. Hawkey also received a drive through penalty for stalling at the start.

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Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Powell and Kimiläinen were closing up to championship leader, the trio within half a second of each other.

Chadwick suddenly came under pressure from Powell and Kimiläinen, and in an exciting three-way scrap, Chadwick lost the lead to Powell and went down to third place ahead of Visser.

With 14 minutes remaining, Powell and Kimiläinen were running five seconds ahead of Chadwick, who was battling hard with Visser to keep her podium position.

Kimiläinen drew within 0.3 seconds of race leader Powell as yellow flags were waved when Koyama spun and stalled her car at Sterling Bend. As a result, the safety car came out and bunched up the pack, making for a thrilling restart with six minutes to go.

Powell pulled away as the safety car went back into the pits, Kimiläinen following on close behind with Chadwick and Visser scrapping for the final podium spot. Visser took third with less than three minutes remaining, and Chadwick then fell into the clutches of Fabienne Wohlwend as she seemed to lose some significant pace.

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Powell finished an absolutely flawless race to take her maiden W Series victory with Kimiläinen taking second place. Visser took the final podium spot, but all eyes were on Chadwick who crossed the line in fourth to be crowned the first ever W Series Champion. Chadwick will also receive $500,000 in prize money, with the remaining fund of $1m to be split between the other drivers.

The 2019 season has been extremely exciting and very refreshing to watch. The series sparked much controversy when it was initially announced in October last year, with many criticising it for ‘female segregation’. However, the series has triumphed beyond expectations and has promoted a new and exciting era of racing.

Women in motorsport are taking a firm step forward, and the W Series is helping female drivers’ ambitions to progress into more established series possible. In turn, it is also helping to inspire the next generation of young female racers. W Series is just the beginning of bigger and better things for women in motorsport.

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Chadwick takes second W Series win at Misano

This weekend the W Series travelled to the Misano World Circuit in Italy for the third round of the all-female world championship.

The sun was shining on Saturday morning when Liechtenstein driver Fabienne Wohlwend took pole position with a laptime of 1:33.283. Championship leader Jamie Chadwick and Dutch driver Beitske Visser slotted in behind in second and third respectively, with Alice Powell in fourth and local girl Vicky Piria in fifth. Caitlin Wood suffered a suspension failure in qualifying which meant she was demoted last place on the grid.

The stunning weather continued as the nineteen drivers lined up on the grid for the race to begin.

Wohlwend had a good start from pole despite a little over steer, however, Jamie Chadwick had a blistering start and quickly snatched the lead from Wohlwend, Visser slipping past into P2 and demoting Wohlwend into third position. On the run down into turn one, Alice Powell hit Fabienne Wohlwend which led to a front suspension failure. As a result, Powell ran into the gravel which forced out the yellow flag and the safety car.

Chadwick had a great restart when racing got underway again, quickly gaining a second advantage over Visser in P2. Koyama and Piria had a close battle in fourth and fifth, with Wohlwend quickly closing the gap behind Visser in second. Wohlwent then went wide before the start finish straight, losing a little time, but managed to close back up to the rear wing of Visser.

W Series

Chadwick went wide which meant Visser closed right up to the British driver.
After her slight wobble, pole-sitter Fabienne Wohlwend set the fastest lap of the race, the first three drivers pulling away from the rest of the field.

Miki Koyama took to the outside to pass Vicky Piria for fourth position as Chadwick continued to set clean and consistent lap times at the front of the pack with thirteen minutes remaining, Visser and Wohlwend still fighting strongly for the win in second and third.

Sabre Cook majorly impressed having started in 15th and made her way through the field up to 9th, right in amongst the mid-field battle.

Visser was right on Chadwicks tail with eight minutes remaining, the Dutch driver thriving in the third sector, but not quite close enough to overtake the championship leader.

With five minutes remaining, Esmee Hawkey went wide and as a result, Naomi Schiff moved up to eleventh place.

W Series

Visser made a small mistake after she locked up the front left tyre with less than 2 minutes remaining. Schiff then had a spin after catching the kerb at turn 4 and 5 before rejoining in P16 and Cook and Moore had a close fight for eighth place.

Jamie Chadwick took the win in Misano and extended her championship lead after a flawless performance. Beitske Visser finished in second place and Fabienne Wohlwend in third – her first podium in the series. Miki Koyama finished in fourth followed by Piria in fifth, Garcia in sixth, then Pepper, Moore, Cook and Keszthelyi rounding out the top ten.

Hawkey finished just outside the points in eleventh, Bovy in 12th, then Rdest, Wood and Hawkins in 15th – who was given a five second time penalty for a jump start. Shea Holbrook finished in 16th, Megan Gilkes in 17th and Naomi Schiff in last place.

The championship is certainly hotting up as we pass the halfway point. The next round will be on the 6th July at the Norisring street circuit in Germany.

Hamilton clinches pole in Monaco after disappointing qualifying for Ferrari

It was a dry but overcast afternoon in Monaco and, as the green light went out in Q1, eighteen of the drivers took to the Circuit de Monaco in a bid to claim pole position.

Monaco is a tight street circuit, so many choose to set competitive times early to avoid being caught out by a yellow or red flag. Early lap times are crucial at this track.

Both Red Bulls of Gasly and Verstappen sat in the garage at the beginning of Q1, with Verstappen’s car being pulled apart and swiftly put back together. Whatever issues he had seemed to have been fixed as he exited the garage.

Leclerc struggled to set a good lap time at the start of the session,  having been held up by Lance Stroll. Hulkenberg almost ran into Giovinazzi in a very similar situation at turn 18, with the pair being put under investigation for the incident.

Verstappen had the initial time to beat, three tenths quicker than defending world champion Lewis Hamilton. Leclerc was in third, with Alex Albon sitting in an impressive fourth place for Toro Rosso.

Hamilton also seemed to struggle, as replays showed the Mercedes driver locking up going into the chicane. After a bit of a scrappy lap, his teammate Bottas managed to set the pace with a 1:11.562.

Steve Etherington

Leclerc then missed the weighbridge procedure, as did Perez and Hulkenberg. All were investigated after qualifying came to a close for the infringements.

Vettel clipped the barrier at the Swimming Pool exit before pitting and returning to the track to set a competitive time. The Ferraris were cutting it fine in P17 and P15 as the chequered flag came out.

After topping the session in FP3, Leclerc dropped out of the session in a disappointing P16 at his home Grand Prix, having been left in the garage by Ferrari as the session came to a close. It was a costly and frustrating mistake which resulted in Leclerc falling behind traffic on his final attempt. Joining Leclerc in the drop-zone were Perez, Stroll, Russell and Kubica.

Both Mercedes went out at the beginning of Q2, with Bottas setting a new track record and Hamilton struggling to match the pace of his teammate in P3 behind Verstappen. Hamilton quickly managed to slot into second spot.

Several drivers made minor mistakes throughout the session, including Magnussen who clipped the wall going into Mirabeau as his Haas struggled to find grip.

With five minutes remaining in Q2, all drivers bar Verstappen went out to set their quickest laps. Verstappen sat in P1 in front of both Silver Arrows as the session ended with Hulkenberg, Norris, Grosjean, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi in the elimination zone. Grosjean was majorly unhappy with P13 after having been held up by the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly, who was then put under investigation for the incident.

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Both Alfa Romeo cars had a disappointing session after showing great pace in free practice, finishing in P14 and P15.

Vettel sat in P4, followed by Kevin Magnussen and both Toro Rossos. Gasly sat in P8 with Daniel Ricciardo behind in P9. Rounding out the top 10 was McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.

The final part of qualifying got underway as all ten drivers took to the track on soft compound tyres. Valtteri Bottas set the initial pace with a staggering 1:10.257, four tenths ahead of Max Verstappen in second position.

Hamilton initially made a mistake going into the chicane which meant his first lap had to be aborted, but he managed to slot into P2 on his second run, two tenths behind his teammate.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo made a risky decision to go for only one flying lap in the session and managed P6.

Sebastian Vettel made a late mistake and ran into the barrier at Tabac, but he didn’t sustain any damage.

After a flawless performance throughout qualifying by Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton pipped his teammate as the chequered flag came out, clinching pole position by half a tenth from Bottas.

Behind, Max Verstappen lined up P3 followed by Sebastian Vettel in P4, Gasly, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Sainz, and Albon.

It was certainly an interesting session with several cars being investigated for impeding the regulations throughout the afternoon. It was another dominant session by Mercedes, but an extremely disappointing day for Ferrari who will have to rethink their strategy for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix. What’s more, with a 60% chance of rain, it certainly seems as if the race could be full of surprises.

 

[Featured image – LAT Images]

Visser takes victory in chaotic second round of W Series

After another blistering lap in qualifying which landed her on pole position for a second time, Jamie Chadwick lined up at the front of the pack at Zolder this afternoon, with Beitske Visser in P2, and fellow Brit Alice Powell in P3.

Reserve drivers Vivien Keszthelyi and home-girl Sarah Bovy both made their debut appearances in Belgium today. Keszthelyi had to step in for Finn Emma Kimiläinen after she was taken ill and was advised not to race.

The race got off to a rather confusing start as yellow flags, caused by smoke pluming from the back of Sarah Bovy’s car as the rest of the pack darted away from their grid slots. The safety car was brought out to clear the stricken car.

W Series

Amid the confusion, Dutchwoman Beitske Visser ran into turn one and took the lead from championship leader Jamie Chadwick.

With 24 minutes remaining, Emsee Hawkey and Keszthelyi made contact, resulting in both spinning off-track. Gosia Rdest also got caught up in the incident, and the safety car was deployed once again. All three were investigated for the incident, with Rdest was also sent to the stewards for an alleged jump start.

Racing got underway again with 17 minutes remaining, with Visser quickly making a gap to second-placed Chadwick.

Miki Koyama made an excellent move at the restart whilst overtaking Caitlin Wood for P8, the Australian struggling to keep position over the Japanese driver.

With 12 minutes remaining, Visser led by 1.5 seconds. Marta Garcia was put under a lot of pressure from Sarah Moore behind in P4, with Pepper and Fabienne Wohlwent fighting hard for P5. American Sabre Cook was given a drive through penalty for causing a collision, slotting into last place once she had rejoined the field.

W Series

With two minutes remaining in the second round of the W Series championship, Alice Powell touched Jamie Chadwick whilst attempting an overtake, but managed to make the move stick and snatched P2 from her fellow Brit. Chadwick didn’t give up though, and gave Alice Powell a tough fight for the second spot on the podium. She eventually managed to snatch the position back on the final lap. The duo were 4.5 seconds behind leader Visser, who was having an impeccable race.

24-year-old Beitske Visser took an impressive victory in Zolder during a race filled with wheel-to-wheel action. Round three of the championship will commence in Italy at the Misano World Circuit on 8th June.

Bottas takes blistering pole position in Spain

The clouds cleared and the sun came out as qualifying got underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain this afternoon.

Q1 got off to a rather quiet start until Nico Hulkenberg locked up his front-right tyre and ran into the barrier at turn four and over the barrier, losing his front wing. The German managed to rejoin the circuit, but had to limp his Renault back to the pits for repairs before he could set a competitive lap time.

Shortly after, British driver George Russell had a spin on the final chicane at turn 13 before rejoining the track.

At the end of Q1, the pack was led by Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in P2 and Lewis Hamilton in P3. Rookie Lando Norris managed to finish the session in an impressive P6, and home-boy Carlos Sainz managed to finish Q1 in P8.

The five drivers who dropped out of Q1 were Hulkenberg and Stroll – who has dropped out of Q1 for nine consecutive races – followed by Giovanazzi, and both Williams’ of Russell and Kubica. Russell has a five place grid penalty for a new gearbox so will start P20 in tomorrow’s race.

LAT Images

In Q2, both Mercedes drivers set impressive pace at the start, with Hamilton setting a new track record of a 1:16.038. Vettel’s time, by comparison, was six tenths slower.

Ricciardo majorly impressed in Q2, slotting into P10. The Renault hasn’t shown great pace so far this weekend, and despite not having completed any qualifying runs in FP3, Ricciardo managed to set a very competitive time of 1:17.299, a positive outcome for Renault after Hulkenberg’s incident in Q1.

The session ended with Bottas in first with a 1:15.924, followed by teammate Lewis Hamilton and the the two Ferraris in P3 and P4.

Out at the end of Q2 was Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Carlos Sainz at what is his home race, Kimi Raikkonen, and Sergio Perez.

Bottas put in an extraordinary flying lap at the beginning of Q3, setting a blistering time of 1:15.406, six tenths quicker than Hamilton.

Leclerc didn’t set an initial lap-time, seemingly in a bid to set one single flying lap. Despite his best efforts, the Monegasque driver finished the session in P5.

LAT Images

Valtteri Bottas took pole position with his first lap time in Q3, with Hamilton in P2 followed by Vettel, Verstappen and Leclerc. Pierre Gasly, Grosjean, Magnussen, Kvyat and Ricciardo rounded out the top ten. Ricciardo, however, has a three-place grid penalty from the previous race so will start P13 on the grid.

It certainly looks like tomorrow’s race will be an interesting one under the sun in Barcelona. Will it be another Mercedes one-two, or will the Ferraris fight them for victory? Time will tell.

 

[Featured image – LAT Images]

Chadwick takes maiden W Series victory at Hockenheim

20-year-old Brit Jamie Chadwick started from pole position in the first ever W Series race this afternoon in Hockenheim.

The 18 female drivers took to the grid in their mechanically identical Formula 3 race cars to begin the 30-minute race.

Chadwick made a good start going into turn one, but she outbraked herself at the hairpin, going wide and giving the lead to Sarah Moore.

Canadian driver Megan Gilkes and Emma Kimilainen from Finland made contact going down the straight into the hairpin, bringing the safety car out and forcing the duo to retire from the race. Fortunately, both were okay.

Credit: W Series

As the safety car period ended, three Brits led the field: Moore, Chadwick and Alice Powell in third.

Sarah Moore went wide at turn one at the restart which gave Chadwick back her lead. Spaniard Marta Garcia made some brave moves and moved up to third position while Moore fell down to P6.

Dutch racer Beitske Visser and Fabienne Wohlwend from Liechtenstein were fighting it out for P4 as Powell went on a charge for the lead, gaining quickly on Jamie Chadwick.

Credit: W Series

The middle of the pack were bunched up for much of the race. Japanese driver Miki Koyama was doing a superb job, progressing up to 9th from her starting position of 17th with ten minutes of the race remaining. She fought hard with Esmee Hawkey, Vicky Piria and Australian Caitlin Wood for the final points in the top ten.

With less than five minutes to go, Chadwick pulled out a comfortable gap in the lead, as Powell began to defend 2nd position from 18-year-old Garcia, the youngest driver on the grid.

Italy’s Vicky Piria dropped to P15 after having a spin and picking up a marker board in sector two before rejoining the pack.

Credit: W Series

After a difficult start, Jamie Chadwick claimed her maiden victory in the W Series, winning the maximum of 25 points and making motorsport history. Fellow Brit Alice Powell and Spain’s Marta Garcia joined her on the podium in 2nd and 3rd.

Visser finished in 4th, followed by Moore, Wohlwend, Koyama, Pepper, Rdest and Wood rounding out the top ten.

It was a thrilling first race in Hockenheim for the W Series, and hopefully, one of many more. Round two of this new and exciting series will take place on the 18th May in Zolder, Belgium.

Red flags cause chaos in qualifying for Azerbaijan GP

The sun was shining over the Baku Street Circuit this afternoon as qualifying for the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix got underway.

Q1 began with two brief yellow flags when Hamilton and Hulkenberg both ran off-track before rejoining the circuit, with Stroll also having a brief scrape with the wall.

A red flag came out just moments after the chequered flag fell on Q1, with Williams’ driver Robert Kubica clipping the wall at turn eight and hitting the barriers. Kubica was okay, but Williams were left with a huge repair job on their hands.

The first session ended with Pierre Gasly in P1, followed by Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton. The five drivers knocked out of Q1 were Stroll, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Russell and Kubica.

LAT Images

After a delayed start due to the recovery of Kubica’s William’s, Q2 finally got underway, but the red flag was brought out again within minutes when Charles Leclerc crashed into the barriers at turn eight – the exact same place where Kubica crashed in Q1. Leclerc was uninjured but was left understandably frustrated as he made his way back to the Ferrari garage.

After yet another half-hour delay, Q2 finished without further incident. Max Verstappen topped the time sheets followed by Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in P3. The five drivers out in Q2 and lining up from P11-P15 on the grid for tomorrow’s race are Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly, who didn’t set a time in Q2 due to his penalty for missing the weigh-in yesterday in practice. He will start tomorrow’s race from the pit-lane.

Q3 was relatively uneventful with nine out of ten drivers out on track in a bid to get pole position. Despite having crashed out in Q2, Leclerc set a competitive time and will start tomorrow’s race in tenth place.

Valtteri Bottas set a sensational lap time of 1:40.495, placing him on pole position for tomorrow’s race. Hamilton completed the front row with Sebastian Vettel behind in P3 next to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The rest of the grid consists of Perez in P5, Kvyat in P6, Lando Norris in an impressive 7th, with Giovanazzi, Raikkonen and Leclerc rounding out the top ten.

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If today’s dramatic qualifying is anything to go by, tomorrow promises to be a very interesting race in Azerbaijan!

[Featured image – LAT Images]

Leclerc Impresses For Ferrari On Day Two Of Pirelli Tyre Tests

Young 21-year-old Monegasque Charles Leclerc has impressed on his first outing for Ferrari this week during day two of the Pirelli tyre tests in Abu Dhabi. With the 2016 GP3 title and 2017 Formula 2 championships already under his belt, it’s hard not to imagine this young talent becoming Formula One champion in the future.

Day one of the testing, which was held on Tuesday, ended with teammate Sebastian Vettel at the top of the timesheets after sixty-nine laps on the 2018 hypersoft compound, setting an impressive time of 1m 36.812s in front of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who set a 1m 37.231 on what Pirelli called ‘Compound 5’ – the softest tyre that will be on offer next year.

Over the course of day one, twelve drivers took to the Yas Marina circuit, including newbie for 2019 Lando Norris driving for McLaren and George Russell for Williams. It was also an opportunity for Polish driver Robert Kubica to get back into the car after his horrifying rally accident eight years ago. Kubica took over from George Russell during the afternoon stint.

Vettel struggled at the beginning of the day after a minor crash at turn one which brought out the red flag. However, he was able to set decent enough times throughout the long nine-hour session.

YAS MARINA CIRCUIT, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 27: Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Sauber C37 during the Test Days at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2018 in Yas Marina Circuit, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Joe Portlock / LAT Images)

Kimi Raikkonen had a disappointing end to his first outing for Alfa Romeo Sauber after suffering a technical issue in the closing stages of the test. In his F1 test debut, Pietro Fittipaldi also ran into some issues when his Haas stopped on track early on in the session, this too bringing out the red flag.

Decent times were set by all on day one, Vettel topping the times from Bottas, Stroll, Verstappen and Perez, with Lando Norris an impressive sixth. Hulkenberg finished the day in seventh followed by Fittipaldi, Kubica and Russell. Raikkonen finished in eleventh place after his earlier struggles and Toro Rosso’s Sean Gelael finished last with a 1m 40.435s.

Day two of the testing brought many surprises, most impressive of all being Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished at the top of the timesheets after a whopping 135 laps on the new ‘Compound 5’. Leclerc’s fastest lap, a 1m36.450s, was quicker than the time Sebastian Vettel had set on the previous day, however Sebastian set his time on the 2018 compound.

(L to R): Lance Stroll (CDN) Racing Point Force India F1 Team with Bradley Joyce (GBR) Racing Point Force India F1 Race Engineer.
Formula One Testing, Tuesday 27th November 2018. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Pierre Gasly, in his first outing for Red Bull Racing, finished the session on P2 setting a time of 1m37.916s, also on the new 2019 compound tyres. Lance Stroll who was testing for Force India slotted in third place, followed by Valtteri Bottas and new McLaren driver Carlos Sainz. In sixth place was Renault’s Artem Markelov, followed by George Russell and returning Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat. In ninth was Haas’ debutant test driver, F2’s Louis Deletraz, in tenth was Robert Kubica and in eleventh position was Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi.

The session was mainly incident free, however in the afternoon Giovinazzi caused the red flag to come out after his Sauber came to a halt in the tunnel exiting the pitlane.

This test in Abu Dhabi officially marks the end of the 2018 season, the next set of testing days being pre-season in Barcelona. Will Leclerc’s top form continue into the new season? Could we see the youngest Formula One champion ever be crowned? With just over one hundred days to go until lights out in Melbourne, we are eager to see what happens in 2019!

The Chequered Flag Falls On The 2018 Season With Dramatic Finale in Abu Dhabi

After another impressive season with Mercedes, it seems that nothing could stop five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton from dominating the race track once again on Sunday afternoon in a somewhat dramatic fashion.

Qualifying results meant that Mercedes had a front row lockout, Hamilton taking prime place on pole position followed by Bottas in second, ahead of the two Ferrari’s of Vettel and Raikkonen in third and fourth, and the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in fifth and sixth. The top ten was completed by Romain Grosjean in seventh, an impressive lap time put Charles Leclerc in eighth, Esteban Ocon  was ninth and rounding out the top ten was Nico Hulkenberg for Renault.

As daylight faded and the floodlights dominated the night sky, the drivers lined up on the grid, many facing an emotional race ahead; the likes of Kimi Raikkonen who was about to take on his last race for Ferrari, Daniel Ricciardo’s last dance for Red Bull Racing, and of course Fernando Alonso’s final ever Formula One race. It was going to be a challenging afternoon in the desert.

Lights out and both Mercedes, followed by both Ferraris and Daniel Ricciardo, got a clean start into turn one, chased by the rest of the pack. Grosjean and Alonso both ran wide but quickly rejoined, with Fernando losing a few places to Ericsson and Gasly. Max Verstappen was strong off the line, however he encountered a problem with a water temperature sensor which temporarily slowed him into turn two, dropping him down the order.  After speaking over the team radio, Max managed to reset the system and the sensor issue was resolved.

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sunday – Steve Etherington

Leclerc shot up the order to sixth followed by Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Ocon, Sainz and Perez. Leclerc was closing in on Ricciardo and the two switched places numerous times, with Daniel eventually fighting his way back up the field.

Meanwhile, Grosjean and Hulkenberg were fighting behind them for position. Grosjean’s Haas was on the outside line going into the corner, Hulkenberg right alongside him. Nico attempted to move across in front of Grosjean, however he misjudged the corner and, as a result, the pair locked wheels, forcing Hulkenberg’s car to barrel through the air into the barriers, the car coming to rest upside down and with some flames igniting in some of the rear bodywork. The Safety Car was deployed and, thankfully, Nico was unscathed if not a little shaken from the accident.

It was a disappointing race for Kimi Raikkonen whose Ferrari came to a stand still on the start-finish straight at the end of lap seven, the display on his steering wheel going black; a disappointing end to his last race for Ferrari.

Kimi’s technical issue meant that Virtual Safety Car was deployed and Mercedes took the plunge, deciding to bring Hamilton in for supersoft tyres on lap eight of fifty-five. He emerged in P5.

Numerous battles were being had across the board, notably between Ocon and Verstappen who had collided in Brazil. This time, Max got the place without any problems. Gasly and Ericsson were having a scrap before Ericsson’s car suffered a technical failure, and Ocon and Sainz were scrapping for P7.

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sunday – Steve Etherington

By lap 23, many of the drivers had pitted. However, Red Bull decided to keep Daniel Ricciardo out for a long stint on the ultrasofts, the Australian leading the race before pitting on lap 34 for supersofts, the slower of the compounds. He came out of the pitlane in P5 behind teammate Verstappen.

By lap 35 Bottas was struggling, locking up on several occasions. Sebastian Vettel took advantage of this and managed to steal second place. Both Red Bulls soon closed up on a struggling Bottas and snatched another two places from him, Max up to the final podium spot and Daniel in 4th position.

As the race reached its closing stages, technical issues arose for Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Marcus Ericsson who all were forced to retire, a disappointing end to each of their seasons.

Despite the drama behind him, Lewis Hamilton had a faultless race, cruising to his 73rd career victory in Formula One. The podium was completed by Sebastian Vettel in 2nd place and Max Verstappen in 3rd, Daniel Ricciardo finishing his 100th race and last for Red Bull Racing in an admirable 4th position.

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Valtteri Bottas finished in 5th followed by an impressive result for Renaults’ Carlos Sainz in 6th and Alfa Romeo Saubers’ Charles Leclerc in 7th, both in their final races for their respective teams before moving on to pastures new at McLaren and Ferrari.

It was a well fought but disappointing final race for double world champion Fernando Alonso, who just missed out on the points in P11. At the end of the race, Alonso was joined by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel who all performed doughnuts on the home straight for the Abu Dhabi crowds as a farewell to the 2018 season and the legendary Spanish driver, a truly remarkable end to the championship. The countdown is on for 2019!

 

Featured Image: 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Ferrari Media