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.

W Series Media

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.

W Series Media

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.

Vicky Piria: W Series presents drivers with “fair and meritocratic” opportunity

25-year-old Italian racer Vicky Piria is one of eighteen women who recently made the final line-up of the historic W-Series, the first ever all-female racing championship.

Testing at the Lausitzring circuit in eastern Germany concluded on 16th April, with the drivers having gotten their first chance to put the Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 car used in the series through its paces.

Fresh from that test, Vicky was kind enough to speak to us about her career and her hopes for the upcoming season.

Her interest in motorsport was sparked as a young girl, introduced to it through her father.

“I became interested in motorsport in a completely casual way,” Vicky said. “I was always a bit of a tomboy and I loved horse-riding. My dad one day bought a go-kart for my brother – I was very curious and competitive so decided to give it a try… Then it all started.”

Back in 2012, she became the first female driver to compete in GP3 when she raced for the Trident team.

“I believe there are a lot more female drivers today, which is a good thing. When I was racing at the time it was all new so people found it difficult at times to see me as a normal driver. But, with more female examples now, it will become more ‘normal’.”

Fast-forward to 2019 and, as mentioned, Vicky will be competing in W Series. She believes that her participation in the series has re-opened doors that she thought closed to her a while ago.

Credit: Colin McMaster/LAT Images/W Series

“Before the W Series opportunity came along, I was not expecting at all to get back into a single-seater – I was simply hopping in some GT rides and continuing my career in those.

“W Series gave me the opportunity to continue what I started at a younger age: single-seater racing. At the moment I am focusing on the now. I want to do my absolute best this season and see day-by-day what the future will bring.”

Selection for the championship comprised of two sections narrowing the pool of drivers down first from 60 to 28, and then from 28 to the final 18.

“They were both difficult, tiring and the pressure was definitely on,” Vicky said, “but it was also a good opportunity to learn new things. In Melk we were driving often on snow and ice, not quite typical for me. Making it through was my main goal – I knew I could do it and it was very important for me.”

The final 18 drivers recently got their first chance to test the series’ Formula 3-spec car, and Vicky was upbeat about how it felt to drive.

“The car is very cool, as is any single-seater. It is very different to the F3 car I drove back in 2013. It is heavier, bigger, and it requires a different driving style just like its Hankook tyres.

“I am still adapting, but after the first test in Lausitzring we definitely made a step ahead. I must say, it looks amazing!”

Credit: Colin McMaster/LAT Images/W Series

Vicky set herself the target of top-five finishes, but admitted that concrete predictions are somewhat difficult to pin down at the moment.

“There will be a lot of attention on this championship and there are only six races, so it will be a very tough competition – all of us will absolutely go with it. It is very difficult to make expectations as it is all a totally new thing.”

When asked whether it was fair to say there was a lot of camaraderie between the drivers, Vicky said, “It is true – I think that as we are all put constantly in the same identical situation and in a fair and meritocratic system, we all feel in the same boat.

“There is a lot of mutual support and we push each other a lot. But, still, we need to do the first race – maybe things will change?

Finally, Vicky had some advice to give to other women looking for a career in motorsport.

“The series is getting people talking, a lot. This gives much more awareness about female drivers and is a big opportunity for the youngest to look up to.

“The advice I want to give is to work hard but to absolutely not forget to enjoy it along the way – happy drivers are faster drivers. Regarding being a female: it is normal – act like it is normal.”

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Susie Wolff for International Women’s Day 2019

Ask any motorsport fan to name a successful woman within the sport, and usually, Susie Wolff will be amongst the names they provide. The first woman to take part in an F1 weekend in 22 years, Susie is now the team principal of the Venturi Formula E who scored their first podium of the seasion in the Mexican ePrix a few weeks ago, as well as the co-founder of the Dare to Be Different initiative, a non-profit organisation committed to change viewpoints and inspiring young girls and women to participate within the motorsport industry.

Sarah Jarvis: You’ve had time to become much more comfortable within your new role as team principal. Was the transition period as challenging as you thought it would be?
Susie Wolff: Yes, it’s definitely been challenging with plenty of changes and improvements to make, but to be honest I’ve relished the opportunity to get stuck in. We’ve made really great progress after a difficult start to the season. In motorsport, ultimately all that matters is performance and, with our first podium of the season in Mexico, I think we’ve demonstrated that we’re on the right track.

SJ: The FE in-season test featured nine female drivers competing in cars as part of the FIA Women into Motorsports Initiative. Did that feel like a significant step forward in promoting the movement of women into motorsport?
SW: Yes, I do feel like it was a significant step forward. I also think it clearly demonstrated Formula E’s commitments both to the promotion of women in the sport and also their desire for diversity within the series. The all female in-season test also served as a fantastic reminder of the female talent out there – that’s an incredibly positive thing in my book.

Image credit: Sam Bloxham

SJ: With your increased involvement in Formula E, there is an intensity of D2BD initiatives at these events. How important are these events to display at such a vastly popular sport? Are they changing the opinions and viewpoints of young girls?
SW: The D2BD events are really important and now that we have the official collaboration with the FIA’s Girls On Track initiative, we’re widening our reach even further to a bigger, global audience. Having our launch event in Mexico at the ePrix was a major milestone for the initiative, it also clearly demonstrated Formula E’s commitment to the promotion of grassroots activity for young women. The launch was met with great enthusiasm, not just from the motorsport community but also the local fans who came and participated in the activity, there’s simply no substitute for hands on experience. One of the major additional benefits of teaming up with Formula E in this way is that we have the benefit of some incredible city centre race locations, this goes a long way towards helping raise awareness and generate interest in the activity.

SJ: Is it imperative to gradually add more racing events to the D2BD calendar for exposure? Are there certain avenues such as F1 and MotoGP that you want to pursue further?
SW: Now that we are a joint venture with the FIA, we’re not focused on volume of events or trying to be the biggest. What we want to do is foster strong and lasting relationships with the ASNs (the local motorsport authorities) to ensure that the activation is strategic, meaningful and leaves a lasting impression on the young ladies who participate. The impact we have from an inspiration and education perspective is the most important thing to me.

SJ: With the introduction of the W Series aimed strictly at a female demographic, do you feel it is a positive step towards better representation of women in motorsport?

SW: Any championship that gives the opportunity to young women to compete is a positive thing. In my view though to become a truly world class professional driver and earn a living in motorsport, you need to compete with the best in the world regardless of gender. Ultimately, motorsport isn’t segregated so I think in the long term, we need to really focus our efforts on bringing more female talent in to the sport across the board so that the best can rise to the top.

SJ: What advice would you give any young girls or women wanting to break into motorsport, whether it be driving or engineering?
SW: My advice would be the same whichever field they were looking at: believe in yourself. Find out what it is that you feel passionate about and go for it. Don’t be scared to stand up for yourself and be seen and heard. Work hard, push yourself and never, ever lose the belief in your abilities. Use initiatives like Dare to be Different to connect and widen your network. We have an incredible line-up of ambassadors who provide mentoring and education to the next generation. But above all else, don’t wait for doors to open for you, knock them down.

For more information on the Dare to be Different initiative: https://www.daretobedifferent.org/

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Bia Figueiredo for International Women’s Day 2019

Bia Figueiredo has had a glittering career in motorsports that spans from Indy Lights to Brazilian Stock Cars. As the first woman to win an Indy Lights series race and the first woman to win at a race car event at the Iowa Speedway, she defined motorsport history and inspired women around the world with her positive attitude and impressive racing. For this International Women’s Day, Bia answered a few of our questions on her career and what it’s like to kick the trend in motorsports. Because this girl can!

 

Jade du Preez: How did you get into karting when you were young?
Bia Figueiredo: Since 3 years old I’ve shown passion for cars and speed. I would stay in my dad’s car turning the wheel for hours. I would ask for mini cars together with dolls. My parents decided to take me to a go-kart track and I loved it. I was lucky enough that they had an open mind by that time and supported me in the sport.

JdP: When did you start to think that you could make a career out of racing?
BF: When you are a kid you are sure you will make it easily to the top. Growing up I’ve realized that it wouldn’t be that easy. Because of that I started to focus on racing and left to the side my teen life with friends, boyfriends and parties. So, by 16 I decided to do that and put all my energy into racing and finishing school.

JdP: How do you think motorsports has changed for women since your breakthrough season in 2009?
BF: Actually I believe 2008 was THE year for women in Racing as I won in Indy Lights, Simona da Silvestro won in Atlantic and Danica Patrick won in IndyCar. On 2010 I made it to Indy 500 with the record of 5 women. So I believe it brought attention to other female drivers working hard to get to a top series.

JdP: You’ve had a few issues with funding over the years, and as a result had to miss races, do you think this would be an issue if you were a man? 
BF: Funding is the biggest problem in racing for male or female racers. At the beginning of my career in karting people wouldn’t support me because they thought a girl would never reach Indy Car. But after winning so many races it has changed a lot.

JdP: And how do you think the issue of female drivers struggling to get funding can be solved?
BF: There are not many women around the globe that are passionate for racing and speed. And not all of them have the support to move up. I believe if you start winning, things will start to change. Funding was always a problem when I struggled to get good results. So I started to work harder to do things different from guys like working better with social media , TV and others. And kept working hard to win races.

JdP: You’ve had such an incredible career, what is the highlight for you?
BF: The highlight is to be able to live from racing. I had support from so many people that believed in me and it is good to know that winning so many races, reaching the top and live from what I love to do make them all proud.

JP: And looking forward, what goals do you still want to reach?
BF: I moved from open wheel to V8 Cars in 2014 and feel that adapting wasn’t  easy. In Brazilian Stock Car where 30 cars can be in the same second I was able to reach a top 5 and many top 10. But for me the target still is a podium and a win. The same in IMSA where I should run a few races with Heinricher Racing/ Michael Shank with amazing drivers like Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen. I can’t thank Jackie Heinricher and Michael Shank enough for giving me a new chance in the USA.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Noemí de Miguel for International Women’s Day 2019

As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day, we spoke to Spanish F1 journalist Noemí de Miguel about her love of sports, her work for Spanish broadcaster Movistar and more.

Emily Inganni: Where did your love of sports first start?
Noemí de Miguel: From my childhood. I grew up in my grandparents’ house and my grandfather and my uncle (still single then) loved sports and we didn’t watch another thing on TV. You only have to choices: love it or hate it. And seems that I felt in love with sports.

EI: Was it always your aim to become a sports journalist?
NM: Indeed. I have been always focused on being a sports journalist and guided my studies and my career to get it from the very beginning.

EI: Why did you decide to switch from football to Formula 1? How did the opportunity with Movistar come about?
NM: I felt stuck. I had been working hard to be the best football journalist possible but my position on the company, my contract and opportunities to raise better conditions weren’t what I expected. I felt frustrated working on my dreamed job and at the beginning, I thought that the situation would change in some moment. But nobody changes anything for you. You must do your way. Then, they offered an opportunity working on F1 and I accepted the challenge because you can watch F1 and follow the races but developing yourself as a journalist following the Great Circus is very demanding. I was studying for months to prepare myself.

EI: How did you feel when you first came into F1? Were you intimidated at all?
NM: In Melbourne in my very first grand prix I was nervous and the jet lag didn’t help at all. I had been studying, reading and researching all kinds of information, speaking and asking some specialists, but it was my time to prove I was capable of doing a good job; as good as I considered I did working for 10 years on football. And many people tried to pressure me and criticised me for being there coming from football and doubting about my knowledge. But I overcame all those circumstances and my confidence grew quickly. I was very welcomed on the paddock for the main F1 representatives, drivers and colleagues. And soon people on social media changed their minds. It’s a good learning experience to leave your comfort zone, face the difficulties, localise your weaknesses and work hard to fix it.

Source: Noemí de Miguel Instagram

EI: F1 is still very male-dominated, what do you think needs to happen to get more women into the series, in roles both on and off the track?
NM: Fortunately, off the track, there are more and more women coming to play important roles. And the opportunities for a driver is about to happen soon, Tatiana Calderon is in pole position. The problem is the culture of motorsport in women, something in which FIA is working on and also Dare to be Different. As the girls would be educated in the culture of everything is possible for them and every single job is appropriated for them and get away the idea of male and female jobs the number of girls aspiring to be F1 driver will increase, the options of talented drivers also.

EI: Do you think there has been much progress for women since you started working in F1?
NM: It’s been a long way but there are more projects running to help the development of female drivers and more women working on F1 teams.

EI: What would be your advice for anyone trying to get into sports journalism?
NM: Respect sports and athletes because they are who play the main role. Work hard, you never know everything, be focused, openminded, a good teammate and enjoy the opportunity. And if you are not happy just change yourself and move on for the next challenge.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Sabré Cook for International Women’s Day 2019

Sabré Cook hit the headlines last year when she won the Renault Infiniti Engineering Academy scholarship at the US GP, but her story goes much further back than that. She balances careers in both racing and engineering , chasing her dreams and encouraging others to follow theirs.

Emily Inganni: What inspired you to start racing?
Sabré Cook: My father used to race motocross and supercross professionally, and he and my mother didn’t want my brother and I racing motorcycles so we got into karting. Things started out slow, they even called me driving miss daisy at first! I remember getting teased by one of the boys about him being faster than I was and that really didn’t sit well and just flipped a switch for me. I remember telling my dad through tears that if I had a proper kart (I had an old one just for fun as I wasn’t too serious about racing yet) I could win. Well, he got the kart and the very next race I won. From then on I was hooked and my competitiveness and passion only grew from there.

EI: You’ve raced in both USF2000 and F4 United States in 2018, how would you compare the two series?
SC: Both USF2000 and F4 are a great platform for starting along the ladder system to professional open-wheel racing in the US. USF2000 has great competition and provides unique opportunities being paired with the IndyCar calendar. F4 also has good racing, the amazing venue pairing with the US F1 GP at COTA, and the overall cost is lower. Both are good series fielded with talented drivers.

EI: What drew you to the engineering side of the sport?
SC: I’d always enjoyed school, specifically math and science subjects. Growing up working on my kart with my dad only fed my interest in the science behind motorsports. Then throughout school, I was blessed with several amazing teachers who nourished my desire to learn.

EI: How did the opportunity with Renault’s INFINITI programme come about? 
SC: The Infiniti Engineering Academy (IEA) is a global opportunity available to all engineering and science-related undergraduate and graduate candidates. The program offered by the IEA is the only program in the world that offers a placement for young engineers that stretches from the road car side of the industry to the motorsports side. And not just any motorsports, it’s Formula 1. Having access to work in F1 is a treat very few engineers get. Candidates can apply online and learn more about the program at www.academy.infiniti.com. I highly recommend checking it out!

EI: What was the selection process like?
SC: The process first begins with submitting your CV online and taking a short test at www.academy.infiniti.com. Candidates are then selected to be a part of the Skype Interview phase. From there only 10 are chosen from each of the 7 global regions to compete at their respective regional final. (The seven regions being Europe, Asia & Oceania, Canada, US, Mexico, China, and Middle East.)
Each of the finals extended over two days. On the first day, the 10 finalists complete several challenges including an engineering exam, individual interviews with the judges, and team challenge created by Harvard University; after that, we were divided into two teams to build an RC car and then compete against the other team in a drag race. Three of us then progressed to the second day, which took place in the Renault F1 Team garage at the Circuit of the Americas the day before the Formula 1 US GP.
On the second day, myself and the other two finalists that made it through completed a technical F1 challenge; this challenge varies per region and it is normally designed by one of the Renault F1 Team technical partners (Pirelli, Castrol, etc.); ours was designed by Perkin-Elmer and it was about diagnostics and trying to find suspect substances in a sample taken from the air filter of the F1 car. This was then followed by the media challenge, which essentially is a simulated press conference with a 30-minute grilling from journalists.
The judges then selected a winner and the announcement was made in front of the Renault F1 Team garage by Nico Hulkenberg. It was a truly amazing experience, to say the least!

W Series Driver Selection.
Melk, Austria.
Monday 28 January 2019.
World Copyright: Zak Mauger/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _54I4037

EI: What will your 12-month placement at Renault involve?
SC: The Infiniti Engineering Academy placement offers 6 months at Infiniti Technical Center and 6 months at Renault F1. I’m currently at the beginning of my placement as a Vehicle Test Engineer at the Infiniti Technical Center. I will be working as a Composite Design Engineer for the second half of my placement when I transition to Renault F1 in the middle of 2019.

EI: Women are still in the minority in both racing and engineering, have you seen progress being made during your time in the industries, or is more change needed?
SC: There is certainly an increasing number of women involved in STEM-related jobs, and of course I hope this trend will continue. Racing is a different story, as the number of females involved seems to come in waves. The core issue is that not enough girls are starting at the roots in karting or other introductory levels. Most girls are not encouraged or know motorsports to be an option for them. I was blessed to have parents that believed I could do whatever I put my mind to regardless of the activity or my gender. The more parents that encourage their daughters, the more women in the industry that speak out, take action, actively support programs to get girls more involved, and publicly put out there that little girls can choose motorsports as a career path, the more likely it is we will see the number of female racers steadily increase.

EI: How are you going to juggle your racing and engineering commitments this year, will one have to take priority?
SC: I’ve balanced racing and school/engineering since I can remember. Time management, having the right focus, and asking for help when you need it are all key.  Engineering and racing go hand in hand, so one skill is always helping improve the other. I am very blessed that the Infiniti Engineering Academy fully supports my passion and ambition to continue racing, and vice versa with my racing partners understanding and supporting my desire to be an engineer.

EI: What does the future hold for you in both racing and engineering?
SC: Truly I cannot be sure, and it will depend on how this year unfolds. That’s life though, the route to your goals never goes exactly to plan. My goals remain the same though, to be an IndyCar driver or F1 Race Engineer… or both! Life is unpredictable, so I cannot say exactly what my path will be. All I know is that I am going to work as hard as possible to achieve my dreams.

EI: What advice would you give to any youngsters dreaming of careers in racing or engineering?
SC: Go for what you want, and don’t let the fear of failing hold you back. Believe in yourself. Learn from every opportunity and keep everything in perspective. Positivity is a choice. Embrace every event, even if it seems less than ideal, there is always something to be gained.  But most of all NEVER GIVE UP!

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Alexa Quintin for International Women’s Day 2019

As Head of Media and Communications for both F2 and F3, Alexa Quintin surely has one of the most whirlwind jobs in the motorsport world, being at the track for between ten and twelve hours each day during a race weekend. She was kind enough to speak with us for International Women’s Day 2019.

Jenny Rowan: How did you first become interested in motorsport?
Alexa Quintin: I was raised to love it: my father was a racing driver in Gordini Cup and prototypes. He started his career in Morocco back in the 60s. He met my mother when she was appointed as his mechanic. She was a professional swimmer but she wanted to try something new. They met at what is today’s Renault F1 engine factory at Viry-Chatillon. Although my dad had to stop his career when they got married, his passion for motorsport and most particularly Formula One never ended. Every Sunday our eyes were glued to the TV to watch the Grand Prix.

JR: Had it always been an ambition of yours to work in motorsport?
AQ: I was not necessarily aiming at working in the sport. I was more interested in the movie industry or in writing. I started my career in television, but after a couple of years, I had the opportunity to join Prost Grand Prix. Once I became part of this industry, it felt like the right place for me: it’s fast-moving and very demanding. It’s exciting!

JR: What does an “average” race weekend look like for you, if indeed there is such a thing?
AQ: It’s always such a hard question to answer… There are so many tasks to cover from catering for the media to liaising with FOM and the FIA to dealing with social media platforms, press conferences, meetings, drivers’ appearances, and also to handling a thousand little things that are
thrown your way at the last minute. You get to the track very early and leave pretty late. The average time spent at the circuit is between 10 and 12 hours. During that time, you walk a lot, run a fair amount, direct traffic, send many emails, WhatsApp and Skype messages, talk to about a hundred different people, etc. Some days, you may feel overworked, but when the dust settles, it always feels gratifying.

JR: How important is social media to your role and has it changed the nature of your job over the years at all?
AQ: It’s become essential and it has changed my views on how the job should be done. Nowadays Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat are part and parcel to people’s lives. For most people, these media platforms are the primary source of information right in the palm of their hands. It’s the fastest way to communicate, but it can also be a means to start rumours and spread false information. It’s a powerful tool, but one that needs to be used wisely.

JR: Out of all the drivers you’ve worked with, is there anyone who stands out as having impressed you the most?
AQ: I have been working in motorsport for almost twenty years now and over this period of time I have been very lucky to cross paths with incredible talents. If I have to name a few, I would say the ones that stood out in GP2/F2 were Nico Hülkenberg, Stoffel Vandoorne, Charles Leclerc, and George Russell.

JR: What has your experience of being a woman working in motorsport been like?
AQ: Working in motorsport has been very rewarding professionally speaking. I never felt like I was an oddity in what appears to be a man’s world. In fact, there are a lot of women in charge of PR in motorsport.

JR: What advice would you give other young women aiming to work in motorsport one day?
AQ: Not to sound too much like Lady Gaga at this year’s Oscars but if you can dream it, if you work hard enough to achieve it, if you have the right attitude, there is no reason you can’t succeed.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Victoria Guppy for International Women’s Day 2019

Victoria Guppy is an ambassador for Dare to Be Different and works as a senior engineer at a major engine company, specialising in new technology.  Previously, she worked in Formula One as a trackside engineer. To mark International Women’s Day 2019, we spoke to Victoria to discover more about the path she took to succeed in engineering, and to find out about the rewards and challenges that working in motorsport presents.

Alison Finlay: Can you start by telling us about your job and what it involves – what does a typical day look like for you, or is every day different?
Victoria Guppy: My job at the moment involves working on hybrid technology so I am doing a lot of research and going to conferences and trying to get up to speed on the latest electrification technology before the first Hybrid project starts. I’ve also been working with another team to resolve some issues they have with a new project.

I particularly enjoy problem solving. It is something that has been part of my job for my whole career and I find it fun trying to get to the root cause of an issue and find a solution. I have a bit more time to do this now. In Motorsport, this needed to happen in a matter of minutes to get the car back out but I have a few weeks now to come up with a solution. A lot of my work has been running engines on test beds to try and replicate the issues seen and then looking at the data. It really can be very different day to day which I love. You don’t have time to get bored!

AF: You previously worked trackside with the Manor F1 team. What are the demands of working at the track and how does it differ from other working environments? 
VG: The biggest thing I struggled with being trackside in F1 is the tiredness and the jet lag and then trying to function at a high level. The days are very long and if you aren’t the sort of person that can sleep on planes or deal with jet lag well then it can be really demanding. My job was relatively stressful, but I really enjoyed that side of it. Especially being out on track with the car before the race starts, however I always used to be so nervous. If anything goes wrong with the car you do not have long to try to fix it before the race, and you don’t want to be the team seen by millions pushing your car off the grid if it has an issue you can’t fix. That was the most stressful time!

It’s a fantastic life for people who are very career driven and place F1 at the top of their priority list in life. I really struggled with being away from my family so much. For each race weekend, you are away the whole week before it, so that adds up, especially when you have back to back races, it can be weeks before you go home. I’m very glad I did it, however personally I was also glad to come out of it. I got to see some great places and you do get a couple of evenings to explore where you are, although this is if everything has gone smoothly with the car build. Although mainly it is the airport, the hotel and the racetrack that you see, but that is the nature of the job. Any sightseeing you get time for is a bonus!

AF: What path do people need to follow to work in engineering roles like yours? What should they study or seek work experience in?
VG: My biggest piece of advice would be to get experience. I started working for a team whilst I was at college, which taught me so much alongside my studies and I carried on working for teams through University. It teaches you to balance work and also reinforces what you are learning at uni, as well as making your CV look far more attractive to potential employers. Just write to people, teams and companies and then follow up by giving them a ring. By the time I finished my studies, I already had six years of experience in the industry. Also, get hands on, buy a car to do up or turn into a kit car even a banger racer. It teaches you practical skills and gives you a lot more appreciation and understanding.
To get to university, I did a Diploma in Motorsport at Bridgwater College, which was fantastic. The course, alongside A Level Maths and Physics, is great to set you up for University and working as an engineer in Motorsport. I then did a Bachelor’s degree in Motorsport Engineering.

AF: You are a Dare To Be Different ambassador – why do you feel this initiative is so important?
VG: For me as a STEM ambassador also, it’s about getting more young people into engineering. As an industry, there is going to be a massive skills shortage if we don’t get more children interested in and excited about engineering.
I think it’s also about overcoming the stereotypes that it’s a man’s world and, yes, it has been, but the industry is on a massive learning curve. Having a diverse workforce means that you have varied ideas. People with different backgrounds and experiences with different inputs. Different characteristics bring with that different skills.

I would love to get to a day where a little girl saying she wants to be a race car driver, or an engineer, isn’t different, but the sad fact of it, is at the moment, it is. So, the initiative is about embracing that, creating a community, supporting each other and saying to younger girls that it’s okay to enjoy this. There are plenty of other women out there that do and have successful careers and it’s about giving them the support, the empowerment and the opportunities to achieve their dreams.

AF: What inspired you to work in engineering?
VG: Quite honestly – watching Formula 1 on TV with my family on a Sunday afternoon.
I once heard a lecturer tell a young guy that wanted to join the motorsport degree that because his only interest had been watching it on TV then he shouldn’t bother signing up. Well, that’s how I started, that’s what piqued my interest and I had no previous experience of engineering or motorsport or had any family members that were ‘in the trade’. I took great pleasure in telling the guy, in front of that lecturer, that as long as you work hard, you can get to where you want to be, even if your previous interest in motorsport is ‘just’ watching on TV. It doesn’t matter what it is that got you interested, the point is that you are.

AF: At the moment there is still an imbalance in the number of men and women working in engineering and in motorsport. Do you think this will change in the future, and what can be done to catalyse these changes?
VG: I hope it can; I think young women are becoming far more empowered to choose the career they want rather than what they think they should have. It’s about getting into schools and teaching kids from a young age that there are female engineers and mechanics and it is possible to do that and for schools to be providing a good STEM education.
However, I am really against just trying to ‘get up the numbers’. Whoever gets the job needs to be the best candidate and having token females just to even out the numbers will do nothing to dispel the myth that we aren’t as good as our male counterparts. So that is all dependent on how many females firstly want a career in engineering, and then go on to do well and succeed in it. Not everyone does and that goes for both genders.
We do still have the generation around that tend to not be as accepting and I have certainly come across a few of them, but if you’re good at your job and do what you need to do then they have nothing to say and it hopefully teaches them that a female is just as capable, no matter their opinion. That’s the only way we are really going to change it for future generations. Carry on doing our thing, doing it well and calling out any behaviour that isn’t acceptable.

AF: Which woman has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
VG: Unfortunately growing up there were not a lot of high-profile female engineers in motorsport. There are certainly a lot more now, but during college Leena Gade was a big inspiration to me. She has won multiple titles and worked her way up through the ranks to get to where she is. She lets her hard work and results do the talking. From some of her interviews, I really like her outlook on being a female in Motorsport. Essentially, if you’re good enough at your job it doesn’t matter if you’re a female, you can achieve what you want to achieve.

AF: Finally, what has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
VG: I definitely had a bit of a self-reflection moment, my first time on the grid when I started working in F1. I just looked down the grid and thought, this is it, I’m here, I made it. All my dreams at that point had come true.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Carolynn Sells for International Women’s Day 2019

The first woman to race the famous Isle of Man TT course as a solo rider was Beryl Swain, in 1962. However, in those days a woman racing caused a huge upset in what was, and some may say still is, a male dominated world of motorcycle racing. So incensed were they by a woman taking part, a weight limit was introduced that Beryl could not meet, thus causing her license to be revoked, ending her racing career just as it was beginning. It was 1978 before the next woman (Hilary Musson) was allowed to compete in the TT, but women would not be allowed to race at the Manx Grand Prix until 1989. It would be almost 50 years between the first woman racing on the Mountain Course and the first female to win a race there.

That woman was Carolyn Sells, and in 2009 she won the Ultra Lightweight Race on the FZR400 Yamaha by Paul Morrissey racing. An ambitious no pit-stop strategy meant she came home with a 62 second lead, and a best lap of 107.780mph. Carolynn retired from racing in 2009, but is still heavily involved with racing in the Isle of Man, supporting Newcomers to the Manx Grand Prix. I’m really delighted she was able to take time out from her busy family & life to answer my questions.

Laura Sawyer: How old were you when you knew you wanted to race bikes? 
Carolynn Sells: About 16, although I didn’t actually get around to it for another 10yrs or so!

LS: What path did you follow from starting out to racing at the Manx?
CS: My dad began racing at the Manx Grand Prix in 1985 and it was there that I decided that, one day, I was going to race there. At the time, women weren’t actually allowed to race in the Manx, but that didn’t even occur to me then.
Life got in the way though and after putting myself through Uni, progressing my career in TV & Film Design and then buying my first house, I finally got around to doing my first race on my dad’s TZ250 a month before I turned 27 in April 2000. I only did 3 meetings that year and then spent the next 2 years aiming to get my National Licence, in order to be able to compete in the Manx Grand Prix in 2003 – the year that I turned 30.

Copyright: Dave Kneen

LS: How supportive were your family and were they behind you from the start?
CS: They were very supportive – dad lent me his bike and then bought my first race bike for me – but I can’t say that he entirely wanted me or my brother to race the roads really (my brother was a newcomer to the MGP at the same time as me). Dad had raced since I was 5 though, so he knew he didn’t get much say in the matter!

LS: You’re now a director of the Manx Motorcycle Club – how do you use that role to support newcomers to the Mountain Course? 
CS: I’m not anymore, but I was for a few years. I am still a Rider Liaison Officer for the Manx and an Official ACU Mountain Course Coach, which means that I teach newcomers about the circuit and what to expect as a newcomer. It is something that I have been passionate about even when I was racing and my goal is to make sure that every newcomer thoroughly enjoys their first Manx and comes home safe and happy. If they’re fast too, well, that’s a bonus!

LS: Aside from the win, what is your next best achievement in racing? 
CS: I think I achieved a fair bit in my short time racing (9 years) and I’m not sure I can pick just one…
I won a solo Motorcycle championship in the Isle of Man (2002) and I won a race at the International Southern 100 (2005) and am the only woman to have done either of those things. I am also still the fastest woman at 4 of the Southern Irish road circuits, despite not having raced there since 2008 and the likes of Maria Costello, and several others have been racing those circuits regularly since then.
Nothing beats my win on the TT Course though, not even close. That was the culmination of 6 years of steadily and quietly working my way up and focussing on the goal.
I also got a Guinness World Record for the win and won Isle of Man Sportswoman of the year too, so they’re pretty special to me.

LS: If you could race again, which meeting(s) would you do, and why? 
CS: The TT and the Ulster Grand Prix… two things I really wish I’d done, but the timing was never right.

LS:  What was the best bike you rode competitively, and which bike do you wish you’d been able to race (past or present) and why? 
CS: Although I had most success on the 400’s, I really did love racing the CBR600RR, it was the best fun and plenty fast enough for me. I always wish I’d had the chance to have a go on an RC30 though…

LS: You’ve always said you don’t consider yourself to be a woman in a man’s sport, and your achievements are certainly something any racer would be proud of. What advice would you give to women who may still feel nervous about progressing with their aspirations because they worry they may be disadvantaged by gender? 
CS: I don’t believe that we are ever disadvantaged by our gender. If you want to do something, get up and do it. It really is as simple as that.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Carole Brackley for International Women’s Day 2019

Marshals may well be the unsung heroes of motorsport, often taken for granted but who make the racing we all love to watch possible. Carole Brackley is one of an increasing number of women who are taking to volunteering as marshals at events across the country, and she was kind enough to speak to us about her role as Specialist Marshal as part of our series of interviews for International Women’s Day.

Jenny Rowan: How did your interest in motorsport first come about?
Carole Brackley: My father was a great lover of motorsport and cars. As soon as I could sit, I was in the front seat next to him, and I was a pretty good co-driver with his teaching. I could name every make and model on the road, and shared his interest. It was great that we lived near Silverstone, and one of his uncles had scaffolding, so we always had a good view of the events. Since my early days, I have watched and attended as many events as I could, although F1 was – and is still – my number one passion.

JR: How did you come to be involved in marshalling?
CB: In my early twenties, I had a friend who competed in rallies in his Mini CooperS and was a marshal at Silverstone. For many years I believed that only men could marshal… I got the taste for voluntary work after a stint as an Olympic Ambassador in 2012 and so I went onto the Silverstone website and sent in my details. I found that it was very easy to train as a marshal – much to my delight!

JR: What is the relationship like between marshals when working at a race?
CB: The teams are very supportive and inclusive. There are several different areas of marshalling and, after starting out track-side, I became a Specialist Marshal, working exclusively in the pits and paddock and on the startline. The work can be quite intense, as I will explain later, but everyone helps each other and keeps it enjoyable.

JR: Do you have a favourite event to work at?
CB: This is a difficult question: I love being in the pits for F1, but the security is such that we are not allowed to go near the team garages or personnel, and officiate from the pit wall. In WEC and other series (also with fantastic cars) you stand in the garage or just outside to officiate, which is a tremendous privilege, and you get a better feeling from the experience.

JR: What sort of duties do you have in an ‘average’ race weekend, if there is such a thing?
CB: As a Specialist Marshal, there are many different tasks, and we have pages and pages of official regulations to learn before the event. The most important is probably monitoring teams, to make sure they don’t break any of these regulations. Should this happen – as it usually does at least once – we write a report, which goes up to the stewards straight away to decide whether they will impose penalties. We also make sure that everyone is safe on the pit wall and in the pit lane, and remain ready to fight fires or push cars as the need arises.

‘Gridding up’ is fun – armed with the grid sheet and a yellow flag, you stand out on track to guide the drivers to their dedicated spot on the start line – sometimes they come at you in the correct order, and sometimes it is absolute mayhem! After the practice lap, usually the marshals responsible for pole position and second will go back out to the start-line, stand just in front of the markings and make sure these cars stop in the correct place. I love that feeling as they drive towards you – you leave, they go.
We also manage assembly, parc ferme, flags, message boards, lights and members of the public and guests.

JR: What has been the highlight of your motorsport marshalling career so far?
CB: This is difficult, so I’ll let you decide…
– Obviously the first British Grand Prix in the pits – you’re just so close to the cars.
– Being asked to represent marshals at a reception at Number Ten Downing Street, mingling with the great and famous from all aspects of the sport – pinch me!
– My first MotoGP race.
– Being chosen the wave the start flag for each car at F1 Live in London – can you imagine?!

JR: You joined Susie Wolff’s Dare to be Different as an ambassador – what does being part of an organisation like that mean to you?
CB: I received an email from MSA (now Motorsport UK) as they had been contacted by Susie, and she wanted to know if I would be interested in becoming the Marshal Ambassador for her new initiative. Having already been under the impression that motorsport was a largely male-dominated sport, I grabbed the opportunity to help get the message out that all areas were open to females. It has achieved so much in the four years since it launched, and it continues to offer advice, help and mentoring to all.

JR: What would you say to other people who are thinking of maybe taking up marshalling themselves?
CB: If you enjoy motorsport, there are fewer ways of getting closer to the action that don’t cost you shed-loads of money. It isn’t particularly glamorous: you’re up very early, out in all weathers and the days are long, but, from that first time a car roars past you (or bike or truck!) at close quarters, you’ll want more! It also makes you feel very much part of everything that’s going on.

More information about how to get involved in UK marshalling can be found here 👉 https://www.motorsportuk.org/volunteers