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 Spa preview: Summer is over and the fight is on!

The summer break is over, and W Series is back for Round 5 at the famous Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The longest circuit on the calendar, the 18 drivers are ready to compete at a track well known for its blind, high speed corners and changeable weather conditions. This will test the talent on display in the all-female series.

Eight drivers on the grid have previously raced at the circuit including Jamie Chadwick, Alice Powell, Abbie Eaton, Sarah Moore, Vicky Piria, Beitske Visser, Fabienne Wohlwend and Caitlin Wood. Caitlin will be stepping up for a second time as reserve driver this season with the PUMA W Series team after a solid performance in Hungry.

Who’s going to be on top?

Coming into the second half of the season there is a really close battle for the championship with only one point separating Chadwick and Powell, and Nerea Marti 35 points back in third.

Chadwick and Powell have been exchanging wins all season, and with 2 wins each the difference is due to Chadwick’s third-place finish at Silverstone. Consistency in a championship like this is always key to success, but that seems to be common practice for these two so a fight to the end looks on the cards to see who will come out victorious. Just one mistake or no points finish could be pivotal in the championship battle.

The fight for third

Just three points cover the drivers in third to seventh, and with good performances from each driver in these positions, the fight to third is looking very interesting.

Marti put in a great performance as a rookie to stick to the top two of Chadwick and Powell last time out in Hungry, finishing in third and putting herself ahead of Sarah Moore by one point.

Moore herself has had a strong start to the season with a podium in the first two rounds, but only managed P7 at Silverstone and didn’t score points in Hungry. She will be looking for a fight back and to hang on to her one-point lead over Emma Kimilainen.

Kimilainen has had a solid start with a podium and points finishes in three of the four rounds so far and therefore is currently fifth in the standings, only one point ahead of Fabienne Wohlwend and Irina Sidorkova who are tied on points.

Wohlwend has had a very up and down first half of the season, getting two podium finishes but then finishing P10 in Round 2 and suffering a DNF in Round 4. In comparison Sidorkova has only been on the podium once but has had higher points finishes with P8 in Round 1 and P4 in Round 4, missing out on points in Round 3.

This battle for third in the championship looks to go right to the end of the season and could be anyone of the five already in contention. However, Beitske Visser and Belen Garcia, in eighth and ninth respectively, are not too far behind and could really come into play if they can put in some great performances over the last four races.

W Series Hungary: Chadwick dominates to retake title lead

Jamie Chadwick took her second win of the W Series season, beating title rival Alice Powell by some margin to reclaim the lead of the championship standings.

Chadwick lost the title lead to Powell following the latter’s victory at Silverstone two weeks ago, but Chadwick struck back this weekend with pole position. She then got a much better launch off the line than Powell on race day to hold the lead into Turn 1.

Powell briefly had to go on the defensive to stay in second ahead of Nerea Marti, who got away quickly from third. Meanwhile, Marti’s Academy teammate Ira Sidorkova jumped forward from fifth position to challenge Beitske Visser, and claim fourth place at Turn 4 on the opening lap.

Further back in the pack, Chadwick’s Veloce teammate Bruna Tomaselli dropped back from sixth on the grid to ninth behind Marta Garcia, Emma Kimilainen and Belen Garcia. At Turn 1, Fabienne Wohlwend got caught up in the jostling for position and lost her front wing, forcing her into a pit stop at the end of lap 1, and retirement shortly after.

 

Over the opening few tours, Chadwick set a series of fastest laps in clean air to stretch clear of Powell. The gap was already over a second by the end of lap 2, and that continued to grow with each following lap. As Chadwick drove away, Powell and Marti also began opening up a gap on the rest of the field.

Chadwick continued to lead for the remainder of the race, and opened a gap of over seven seconds after consistently setting fastest lap times and lapping within a second of her pole time from Friday. She crossed the line to take the win at the end of lap 19 with Powell a distant second, and Marti further back in third and taking her first podium in the series.

Behind the top three, Sidorkova and Visser remained locked in a tight battle over fourth place. Sidorkova made an error at Turn 11 on lap 3 which allowed Visser to close to within half a second, although Sidorkova responded well in the following laps to keep ahead of the Forbes car.

 

Visser continued to put the pressure on the 18-year-old ahead and was consistently a tenth quicker per lap. But with the Hungaroring being such a difficult circuit to overtake on, Visser had to follow Sidorkova home over the line in fifth place.

Kimilainen took sixth place, having pounced on a late wide moment by Marta Garcia through Turn 11 to take the position on lap 16. Marta Garcia was seventh ahead of Belen Garcia, Tomaselli and Jess Hawkins.

Chadwick’s win puts her back at the top of the championship standings with 73 points, although Powell is just one point behind in second place. Marti’s podium moves her up into third in the standings on 37 points, with former third-place driver Sarah Moore one point behind her after finishing the Hungary race in 15th.

W Series returns after the summer break on 28th August at Spa-Francorchamps, in support of the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix.

W Series Hungary Preview: Powell in the lead in tight battle at the top

Round 4 at Budapest signifying we are nearly halfway through this exciting season. In an 8 race season every race counts, so it’s important to optimise the more tighter style at the Hungaroring compared to the fast track of Silverstone.

The Hungaroring is a 4.38km circuit which held its first Formula 1 race in 1986, with this year’s race being its 36th event. The first females to race at the track were Annette Meuvissen and Mercedes Stermitz in 1988 during a one-off DTM race. Since then, there have been relatively few females’ appearances. However, on the 2021 W Series grid 3 drivers have had experience here.

Beitske Visser has the most experience at the Hungaroring, competing in 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the Renault 3.5 World Series and in the GT4 Euro South competition. When GP3 supported F1 in 2012 both Alice Powell and Vicky Piria competed around the track, however neither made the points.

Can Alice Powell hold on to the lead?

During a dramatic Silverstone race where, after qualifying on pole with a stunning lap, Alice Powell lost first position in the first few corners, then had a race-long battle with Fabienne Wohlwend to eventually come out on top. This adds to her win in round 1, and with Jamie Chadwick finishing in 3rd at Silverstone this means Powell is currently on top of the standings, 6 points ahead of Chadwick.

Alice Powell is having a good season so far, getting her first pole position in the series and beating her number of wins from the whole of the 2019 season. Widely considered a very strong contender for the championship, Powell is taking advantage of her run of form.

Jamie Chadwick, however, is looking to fight back. After a 3rd place finish at Silverstone where she was on her own all race, she is hoping for a strong race weekend in Hungary to take back the lead of the championship and add to her win from round 2 at the Red Bull Ring.

Sarah Moore and Wohlwend are not far behind Chadwick in the standings, and a strong race for both means they come into this weekend with confidence. Wohlwend in particular had an impressive performance in her fight with Powell, which she will be hoping to repeat in Budapest.

Caitlin Wood’s comeback

Caitlin Wood (Drew Gibson / W Series)

The 24-year-old Australian competed in the inaugural 2019 W Series season, but narrowly missed out on automatic qualifying for the next season at the Brands Hatch and was therefore listed as a reserve driver. She finished 13th overall with 11 points scored and a highest finish of 5th.

Caitlin will be racing for PUMA this weekend; she is the first Australian woman to compete successfully in the European scene. She has also taken part in GT4 European Series and Formula Ford along among others.

Many drivers looking to improve their own performances for this weekend and it will be exciting to watch who can tackle this track which is known to test fitness and skill. Qualifying starts at 3:30pm GMT on Friday, lights out at 3:30pm GMT on Saturday.

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.

W Series Austria: Chadwick dominates at the Red Bull Ring

Reigning W Series champion Jamie Chadwick kickstarted her title defence with a dominant win from pole position in the second Red Bull Ring round.

Chadwick got a dream start from pole as Beitske Visser stalled off the line from second position. She was then given another advantage as her Veloce teammate Bruna Tomaselli and Academy’s Irina Sidorkova tussled for second, allowing Chadwick to arrive at Turn 1 with a healthy lead already.

Sidorkova came out on top in the battle with Tomaselli and pulled clear of the Brazilian over the opening lap. That left Tomaselli under pressure from Emma Kimilainen, who had jumped up from sixth on the grid to join the podium fight.

 

Kimilainen passed Tomaselli for second on lap 2 and stuck close to the back of Sidorkova. As Chadwick pulled clear of the pair, Kimilainen kept her car consistently within a second of Sidorkova and tried to find a way past the Russian.

But despite the pressure from Kimilainen throughout the race, Sidorkova managed to close off any opportunity and finish second behind Chadwick for her first W Series podium. Kimilainen ran out of laps to make a move happen, but finished half a second behind Sidorkova in third.

As the podium trio bolted down the road, Tomaselli led a tight battle for fourth place. The Veloce driver soon had a train behind her with Sarah Moore, Nerea Marti and Abbie Eaton. Moore in particular had great pace, and had already got herself up to fifth from eighth on the grid.

 

Moore initially got past Tomaselli on lap 7, but was repassed and had to fend off Marti on the following lap. Moore then regrouped in the closing laps to try around the outside of Tomaselli at Turn 3 on lap 18, before finally making a move stick at Turn 4 on lap 22.

Moore and Tomaselli finished fourth and fifth, with Eaton getting ahead of Marti for sixth and her first W Series points. Alice Powell finished a disappointed eighth between Marti and Belen Garcia, after saying on the radio that she had no straight line speed.

Sabré Cook had held the final point in tenth for much of the race after recovering from a spin in qualifying that put her at the back of the grid. But her Bunker Racing teammate Fabienne Wohlwend grabbed the position in the closing laps to round out the top ten.

Chadwick’s win moves her to the top of the standings by three points from Moore, with Round 1 winner Powell another point behind in third. W Series returns in two weeks’ time at Silverstone, in support of the British Grand Prix.

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.

W Series Styria preview: championship returns for landmark second season

W Series returns this weekend for the first round of its 2021 season, at Austria’s Red Bull Ring in support of the Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix.

More than 680 days have passed since the last W Series race at Brands Hatch in August 2019, after the 2020 season was called off because of the global pandemic. But in 2021, W Series isn’t just picking up where it left off — it’s presenting a new-look championship with plenty of changes.

The first is that W Series will be running on the F1 support bill, as was planned for part of last year. After running with the DTM paddock for its inaugural season, the championship will now feature at the Styrian, Austrian, British, Hungarian, Belgian, Dutch, US and Mexico City Grands Prix.

This will coincide with FIA super licence points being awarded to the series for the first time. W Series will now match the points given in championships like Indy Lights and Euroformula Open, with 15 for the champion down to one point for seventh place in the standings.

New teams structure for 2021

Courtesy of W Series Media

As well as the new Grand Prix weekend billing, W Series is also changing the way its cars are run for 2021. Instead of all the entries being centrally run by the series itself, as was the case in 2019, W Series has opened the championship up to external partners forming two-driver teams with control over their own liveries and sponsorship.

Team Car no. Driver Car no. Driver
Bunker Racing 5 Fabienne Wohlwend 37 Sabre Cook
M. Forbes Motorsport 95 Beitske Visser 17 Ayla Agren
Puma W Series Team 19 Marta Garcia 3 Gosia Rdest
Racing X 27 Alice Powell 21 Jess Hawkins
Sirin Racing 54 Miki Koyama 11 Vicky Piria
Veloce Racing 55 Jamie Chadwick 97 Bruna Tomaselli
Ecurie W 7 Emma Kimilainen 44 Abbie Eaton
Scuderia W 26 Sarah Moore 22 Belen Garcia
W Series Academy 51 Irina Sidorkova 32 Nerea Marti

Three of the teams — Ecurie W, Scuderia W and W Series Academy — will still be centrally run by W Series. The cars will also still be mechanically identical, and will be operated and managed by Fine Moments and W Series Engineering.

The series will feature an unofficial teams’ championship this year, with a formal championship planned for 2022.

Chadwick back to defend her title

Courtesy of W Series Media

As W Series returns, so too does 2019 champion Jamie Chadwick. After being flagged as the early favourite for season one, Chadwick returned the hype in fine form with two wins, three poles and a podium in every race bar one.

Not only will she be aiming to stamp her authority on season two as well, Chadwick will also have the advantage of being a Williams development driver, so she’ll have had plenty of time preparing for the Spielberg track with a team that knows it well.

But Chadwick won’t have an easy run at her second title by any means. For starters, she’ll have her chief 2019 rival Beitske Visser to contend with. Visser only finished ten points behind Chadwick in season one, and like her rival never finished lower than fourth across the season.

Visser’s main focus in this year’s title campaign has to be qualifying. While Chadwick took three poles in 2019, Visser took none, so qualifying high and controlling races from the front will be key to getting the upper hand in 2021.

 

And that’s not all — if 2019 is anything to go by, we can expect at least a five-way championship battle with Alice Powell, Emma Kimilainen and Marta Garcia getting in the mix as well.

Together with Chadwick and Visser, this quintet of drivers took every podium position bar one last time out. But with Kimilainen missing two races due to injury, Powell suffering two retirements and chassis damage issues, and Garcia in her first year above F4 machinery, they weren’t able to weigh in on the inaugural title fight as expected. Watch for that to change this year though if they can get their seasons off to a clean start.

W Series will get underway with practice at 13:10 local time on Friday and qualifying at 16:30, and the first race of the season on Saturday at 16:30 just after F1 qualifying.