W Series Qualifying: Kimiläinen beats championship rivals to pole

Qualifying at Zandvoort was an important session for the drivers as overtaking here could be hard. The crowd was already electric on a Friday, with Beitske Visser was looking to impress after a P5 in practice.

After a short 5 minute delay due to red flags earlier on in the day, the session got underway, and it was noticeable that with different power and tyre compounds, the majority of the drivers took wider lines through the banked in comparison to Formula 3 and Formula 1 in order to hold onto the speed through the corners.

Fabienne Wohlwend crashed out of qualifying early in the session at the exit of turn 3 after going wide from the banked corner. She got out of the car and was OK but will be starting from the back of the grid tomorrow.

Back on track when the red flag was lifted and there was a switch up in run plans with nearly 24 minutes left on the clock. Visser and Sarah Moore came out on fresh tyres, while others stuck to their used tyres which did not need as long to warm up.

Jamie Chadwick had provisional pole for the first 10 minutes and was improving all the time. Jess Hawkins and Alice Powell were improving behind her though. Hawkins couldn’t quite match Chadwick in the end, but Powell went faster and took provisional pole.

Irina Sidorkova went off at turn 9 but was able to make it back onto the track. However, she joined by going straight across the racing line and is under investigation. The off hurt her run plan and she qualified P15, looking to move up the order during the race tomorrow.

Emma Kimiläinen had to sit out most of practice so was looking to improve massively and put in some fantastic laps to be provisional P2 at the halfway mark. Chadwick then improved and went fastest with home favourite Visser managing a P3. At the halfway point every driver was still improving lap times and so much movement happening meant the timing graphics couldn’t keep up.

In the last 9 minutes it was set to be all change in the order as the lap times kept tumbling down. Powell put in a stunning lap to get provisional pole which couldn’t be matched by Chadwick who lost out in the final sector to go P2. Kimiläinen was in P3 and Nerea Marti put in her personal best lap to be in P4. With 5 minutes 45 seconds to go the red flag came out again as Sabré Cook spun and beached the car at the chicane. She was then out of qualifying, finishing P17 in a day to forget for the Bunker team.

Once the track was cleared the session was back underway with a shootout for pole position. Chadwick went fastest in the first two sectors but again lost the speed in the last sector and couldn’t improve on her time. Kimiläinen was the only driver improving in the first laps out, but all drivers were improving again on the second laps. Issues with the timings meant there was confusion at the end of the session as to who had actually taken pole.

Once the timings had updated, impressive speed in sectors 1 and 2 meant that Kimiläinen took a great pole to continue her momentum from her victory last time out in Spa. Powell narrowly beat Chadwick to P2 because Chadwick was struggling to gain time in that final sector. This is the first time this season that someone other than Chadwick or Powell have qualified on pole.

There are six Brits in the top eight with great results for Abbi Pulling in P5, Hawkins in P6, Abbie Eaton in P7 and Moore in P8. Beitske Visser only managed P12 at her home race, but with the crowd behind her she will be looking to put some moves on the other drivers to make her way to the top.

Race starts at 16:30 local time (15:30 BST) tomorrow on Channel 4.

W Series Preview: The Dutch Comeback!

The Formula 1 circus arrives at Zandvoort for the first time in 36 years with the W Series there to be a part of it all for Round 6 of the championship. Having had plenty of work done to get the circuit ready, it is now 4.259Km long, 0.007Km shorter than the track which Niki Lauda won at in 1985. The track boasts a mixture of some high speed, cambered corners, and blind braking spots unlike any other circuit.

After last week’s crash during qualifying at Spa it was great to see all six drivers involved come out OK. Beitske Visser and Ayla Agren have both been cleared to race this weekend, and Visser especially will be looking to have a successful home race. She has a mixed experience with the circuit, having won her first race in ADAC Formel Masters Series back in 2012 there just 1 day after breaking her back. She showed then her determination to fight back to race and will do the same again this week.

Abbi Pulling is back for the second time for the PUMA W Series Team. Finishing in the top 10 at Silverstone, she had a strong performance on her W Series debut and will be looking to repeat this success after some disappointing recent results in British F4.

Only a few drivers other than Visser have experience of the track in different configurations. Pulling and Fabienne Wohlwend have the most recent experience, competing there in the 2019 Ginetta GT5 challenge and 2017 Audi TT Cup respectively, while Sarah Moore has raced the old track Emma Kimiläinen has tested at the circuit. This means the experience of the drivers is relatively level so this will be a test to see who can master the track over Friday and Saturday.

Can Chadwick extend her lead?

Emma Kimiläinen had a fantastic race last time out at Spa, winning by 8.4 seconds and passing both Jamie Chadwick and Alice Powell on her way to victory. With Chadwick finishing P2 and Powell finishing P4, there is now a 7 point gap at the top of the table between the defending champion and her rival.

Every point is crucial, and Alice will be looking to use her driving experience to gain knowledge on the track and have an advantage on Jamie Chadwick over the weekend. Both drivers will be aiming at maximum points so expect maximum attack from these 2 as the season starts to draw to a close. With just 3 rounds left, including Zandvoort, Powell can’t afford to lose sight of her competitor and Chadwick will be focused on extending the gap.

W Series Silverstone: Powell overcomes Wohlwend challenge for home win

Alice Powell took a home victory and her second win of the year in the W Series Silverstone round after seeing off the challenge from Fabienne Wohlwend in a race-long dogfight.

Powell started the race from pole but Wohlwend got the better start to pull alongside her. After running side by side through Abbey and Farm, Wohlwend managed to get the move complete through Village.

Wohlwend and Powell then spent the opening laps pulling away from third-placed Jamie Chadwick and the rest of the field. As they traded fastest laps, the gap between them stayed around half a second, while Chadwick fell several seconds behind the two leaders.

Wohlwend seemed to have enough to cover off Powell each time she drew closer. But on lap 10 their battle was halted when Miki Koyama broke down at Village and brought out the safety car.

At the restart, Wohlwend then struggled to get her tyres back up to temperature. She went wide through Club on the run to the start line which allowed Powell to draw up, then locked up at Vale at the end of the first green flag lap.

That error was enough for Powell to pull alongside and take the lead down the main straight. Powell then took advantage of Wohlwend’s lack of grip to pull clear by over a second in the final laps.

Powell took the win with Wohlwend in second, and Chadwick made it two British drivers on the Silverstone podium in third. Chadwick ran a fairly quiet race without the pace to keep up with Powell and Wohlwend, but with few challenges from behind either.

Emma Kimilainen came fourth ahead of Nerea Marti. Beitske Visser finished sixth after losing several places at the start from fourth on the grid. Sarah Moore was seventh ahead of W Series debutant Abbi Pulling, and Abbie Eaton and Jess Hawkins rounded out the top ten.

Powell’s victory means she now regains the championship lead from Chadwick by 6 points, while Moore stays in third albeit 18 points adrift of the front.

W Series returns in two weeks’ time at Budapest’s Hungaroring, in support of the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix.

W Series Silverstone preview: Six Brits on the grid for home race

After a great start to the season with the double header at the Red Bull Ring, W Series is back competing alongside Formula 1 at the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone – the Home of British motor racing.

The 18 drivers will be racing the full Grand Prix circuit, hoping to one day follow in the footsteps of the Italian driver Lella Lombardi, who was the first female to compete in a Formula 1 World Championship race at Silverstone in 1975. There are 11 different countries represented on the grid, with six British drivers competing at a home race in front of almost sell out crowds.

The current standings after the first two rounds show a very dominant display from the Brits with Jamie Chadwick leading Sarah Moore by three points and Alice Powell in third just one point behind. Abbie Eaton is in 11th, but Jessica Hawkins is looking to score her first points of the season after not having a good start.

Abbi Pulling Debut

Alice Powell and Abbi Eaton (Courtesy of W Series Racing)

The sixth British driver is 18-year-old Abbi Pulling, who will be making her competitive debut in the W Series this weekend. Abbi was listed as a reserve driver after she did the pre-season testing in Anglesey, Wales. She will be racing for PUMA alongside Marta Garcia, and sharing the grid with her career mentor Alice Powell.

Abbi is a currently part of the British Formula 4 championship and is a two-time British Karting champion. Abbi is considered a young rising talent within motorsport, and it will be great to see what she can do in front of her home crowd.

Can Chadwick extend her lead?

Jamie Chadwick will be looking to extend her lead on the series after her dominant performance at the Austrian Grand Prix. With only eight races on the calendar for W Series each race weekend is vital for the championship.

However, she is not the only driver with race experience at Silverstone. Both of Chadwick’s nearest championship rivals have plenty of experience competing at the circuit.

This will be a great challenge for the 2019 champion as this circuit suits the racing style of Moore and Powell better than the Red Bull Ring, so she will need to bring everything in order to stay on top after the weekend is over. Chadwick has shown her ability in the past to perform well under pressure which will be an advantage to her when racing with the largest crowd expected this season.

The W Series race will be Saturday afternoon at 13:25 local time. This is going to be a weekend where all the drivers need to keep a cool head to create some really great racing.