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 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.