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 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 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.