The all-female motorsport category, the W Series, wrapped up its first-ever season this past weekend with its race at Brands Hatch—an event that would determine its champion. And after a dicey race, Jamie Chadwick came out the inaugural champion.
Chadwick, a 21-year-old driver from Bath, England, was one of the promising talents selected for the W Series earlier this year. With successes in both sports cars and open-wheel racing, she was signed on to Williams’ Racing Driver Academy in May as a recognition of her talents. After winning the first race of the year, she was a clear title favorite.
That doesn’t mean her path to the championship was particularly easy. Dutch racer Beistke Visser was a pointed challenger all season long. Heading into that final race, Visser trailed Chadwick by a mere 13 points—something that, given the unpredictability of racing, could have been easily overcome.
Chadwick led first few laps of the race from pole position, but she was slowly overtaken by her competitors as she slipped back into fourth place. That could have spelled disaster for the British driver—Visser had secured the final podium position and looked to be prepared to overtake again.
Fourth, though, was enough for Chadwick to take home the championship by a mere 10 points—110 to Visser’s 100. As promised by the series, she also secured $500,000 of the overall $1.5 million prize money.
Here’s more from Chadwick herself, as reported by Motorsport.com:
“I felt I had Beitske behind me quite easily but then I managed to make a mistake and open the door to her. Honestly as the race goes, it was probably the most stressful 30 minutes of my life.
“I’ve never really experienced that level of pressure before, I guess when you’ve got a championship [at stake] but in the back of your mind you just want to win the race.”
She added: “It’s one of those track that bites, and in the back of my mind I knew that could happen and I didn’t want to throw the championship away.
“I’m a bit gutted still, I would have loved to have won today and I would have loved to secure the championship in style. But it wasn’t meant to be.”
This isn’t Chadwick’s first championship—it’s another title to add to the 2015 British GT Championship and MRF Challenge titles she already holds—but she will go down in history as the W Series’ inaugural champion.
We have been admittedly skeptical of the W Series in the past—namely, because the money spent developing a whole new series could have been better used to sponsor women in all areas of motorsport, helping them succeed in their individual series. That said, it’s still pretty awesome to see such a talented woman win a championship and the subsequent prize money that can help further her career.
As far as “next moves” go, we’re going to have to be patient to see what Chadwick decides to do. While she could very well defend her title in the W Series in 2020, it has been rumored that she could also seek out a Formula 3 seat in hopes of making her way to Formula One proper.