Jamie Chadwick reflects on second W Series triumph and looks ahead to next steps in search of F1 dream
"I'm hoping we can use W Series as a great springboard to give me that kind of opportunity to step out of it and ultimately aim for Formula 1 in the next three years," says British driver and double W Series champion
Last Updated: 04/11/21 1:55pm
Jamie Chadwick believes her goal of reaching Formula 1 "definitely feels closer than it's ever felt" after winning a second successive W Series title.
The 23-year-old British driver has now won both championships in the all-female racing series (2019 and 2021) and closed out this year's crown ahead of compatriot Alice Powell with an impressive victory double at the season finale in Austin a fortnight ago.
The W Series has staged its second season on the support bill for F1, where Chadwick has been a development driver with Williams since 2019. She also races in the inaugural season of the climate-aware Extreme E series.
In an interview with Sky Sports News reflecting on her latest title triumph, which she admits feels like a "weight's been lifted off my shoulders", Chadwick said of her long-time F1 ambitions: "It definitely feels closer than it's ever felt, which is an amazing thing.
"But it also feels like there's a lot that I need to achieve yet. So, it feels closer but there's a long way to go yet.
"We just need to focus on performance, doing the job I can do, and I feel like the opportunities really are coming out now and the doors are starting to open. So as long as I can keep performing then I'm hoping those opportunities will come about."
Chadwick says she wants the next phase of her journey to take her into one of F1's two official feeder series, F2 or F3.
"I've been so focused on the last weekend [of the season] up until now I haven't actually thought that far beyond it, but I think realistically we want to look at getting into a feeder series to Formula 1," she explained.
"So something like Formula 2, Formula 3 maybe is the next logical step. Whether that's next year or the year after we need to make a plan but I'm hoping we can use W Series as a great springboard to give me that kind of opportunity to step out of it and ultimately aim for Formula 1 in the next three years."
In addition to the sporting glory of becoming a back-to-back champion, Chadwick also collected valuable superlicence points for the achievement, taking her up to the 25 required to be eligible for an F1 practice session. Drivers require 40 to be granted a superlicence to race at the top level.
Susie Wolff was the last female to take part in Friday practice sessions, appearing four times for Williams in 2014-15. Italian Lella Lombardi was the last woman to race in F1, in 1976.
"That now gives me the chance to do free practice sessions in Formula 1, and then obviously I need the next 15 points to race in Formula 1, but it's a great step forward into that kind of position to be ultimately trying to be in Formula 1," said Chadwick
"There's still a long way to go yet but it's a significant amount of points to now have."
She added: "I have an amazing relationship with Williams, and I've been their development driver for a few years now so I'm hoping that at some point that relationship can progress into a free practice session for me.
"But any time I can get into a Formula 1 car now is going to be hugely beneficial going forwards."
Chadwick admits that "without W Series I definitely wouldn't be in this position" to be able to continue chasing her single-seater ambitions, and believes doors are opening for women in motorsport in general.
"Opportunity has never been better for girls in this sport. If anything, the sport is desperate to see women succeed," said Chadwick.
"Not just as racing drivers, but in all elements of the sport.
"In my opinion it's no better time to get into it if you're a young girl and you're interested. I talk to so many young girls now and the chances that they are getting and the things that are cropping up, it's really cool to see and exactly what the sport needs."