Jamie Chadwick has expressed her admiration for Lewis Hamilton but admitted that her aim of reaching Formula One will be far from easy. The British driver won the inaugural women-only W Series in August and is now a development driver for the Williams F1 team.
The 21-year-old won the W Series with a dominant performance including two wins and three podium places in six races. She will defend her title next year when the series expands to eight races and will award FIA super licence points, which are required to compete in F1.
Chadwick said that Hamilton, Britain’s most successful driver, was an inspiration. “I have a huge amount of respect for him,” she said. “He is a six-time world champion and an unbelievable one. If I can emulate even a tiny amount of that, it has to be something to aim for.”
Chadwick has already enjoyed considerable success. She was the first woman and the youngest driver to win the British GT championship and last year won the Asian MRF Challenge.
A woman has not raced in Formula One since Lella Lombardi 43 years ago and Chadwick’s role with Williams, which includes her working on the team’s F1 simulator, has been valuable but also instructive in illustrating the scale of the challenge that lays ahead.
“F1 feels further away,” she said. “I now know what I need to learn in the next few years. I am not going to rush that or try and cheat. I get comments on social media asking if I will be replacing [Williams driver] Robert Kubica. That is not even a realistic option. I need the time to develop. If I get to F1 I want to be best possible driver to make the mark I need to make and do the best possible job rather than being there a year or two early for no reason.”
The W Series made a significant impact this year, successfully bringing female drivers the exposure and track time that many would otherwise have been denied. Chadwick has tested an F3 Euroformula car recently, is considering competing in the championship and will also compete in the electric Extreme E series set to take place in 2021. Liechtenstein’s Fabienne Wohlwend has become a household name in her home country and has enough backing to race full-time next year. Chadwick believes the W Series is making the right steps as it looks to build on its achievements.
“It’s so exciting to see a series not following the norm and changing, adapting and learning, it’s an exciting time,” she said. “The way it has changed my life is that is has not just appealed to the motorsport audiences. It’s grabbed the attention of women’s sport in general. I have been on shortlists for awards that no one in motorsport would have got previously their name in.”
Next season the W Series will include two new fixtures in Russia and Sweden. The opening round will be held on the new purpose-built circuit at St Petersburg on 29‑30 May.