W SERIES FLIES IN TO FRANCE AS PAUL RICARD WELCOMES FAST FEMALES
75 days, 13 hours, 25 minutes. When the light at the end of Circuit Paul Ricard’s pit-lane turns green this Friday to commence W Series’ practice session for the fifth race of the 2022 season in south-eastern France, that is how long it will have been since Jamie Chadwick (Jenner Racing, 24, UK) overtook Emma Kimiläinen (Puma W Series Team, 33, FIN) for the lead of the season-opener in Miami, USA. The reigning double W Series champion has not looked back since.
Jamie followed up that dramatic initial victory with three dominant lights-to-flag wins in Miami, Barcelona, and Silverstone – topping all seven W Series sessions, including practice and qualifying, along the way – to give her a maximum 100 points so far this term and a commanding 47-point lead over nearest challenger Abbi Pulling (Racing X, 19, UK) in the championship standings with six races remaining.
Jamie will go for her seventh straight W Series race win – a run of success dating back to 23 October 2021 in Austin, Texas, USA – this weekend in Le Castellet, which lies approximately 50km (31 miles) east of France’s second-most populous city, Marseille. The race in support of the Formula 1® Lenovo Grand Prix De France 2022, is the first of back-to-back W Series events – the sixth race of the season takes place at the Hungaroring, Hungary, next weekend (29-30 July) – which conclude the international single-seater motor racing championship for women drivers’ European races for 2022 ahead of F1’s traditional summer break in August.
This will be W Series’ 15th race in Europe but first in France and, while there are no French drivers among the 18 – who represent 10 different nations – on this year’s grid, several of the class of 2022 are familiar with the 5.842km (3.63 miles) Circuit Paul Ricard, which hosted its first F1 Grand Prix in 1971.
Jamie competed there in the Formula Regional European Championship in 2020, finishing all three races inside the top 10. Belen Garcia (Quantfury Racing W Series Team, 22, ESP) has contested five races at Paul Ricard – three in the 2019 F4 Spanish Championship, which team-mate Nerea Martí (Quantfury Racing W Series Team, 20, ESP) also took part in, and two in last year’s Formula Regional European Championship. Beitske Visser (Sirin Racing W Series Team, 27, NED) raced there in the Formula V8 3.5 Series in 2014 and 2016, and in the European Le Mans Series in 2020. Abbi, Fabienne Wohlwend (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 24, LIE), and Emely De Heus (Sirin Racing W Series Team, 19, NED) have tested at Paul Ricard.
It will be a home race of sorts for British pair Abbi and Alice Powell (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 29, UK), who are both members of the BWT Alpine F1 Team which is owned by French automotive company Groupe Renault. This year, Abbi joined Alpine’s Academy and Affiliate programme, for which Alice is a Talent Identification and Development Mentor. Alice has a long-standing affiliation with the team and, like Abbi, lives a few miles away from Alpine’s factory in Enstone, Oxfordshire. Last year’s W Series runner-up made history in 2009 when she became the youngest-ever female driver to compete in the Formula Renault UK Championship. A year later, Alice was the first woman to win a Formula Renault Championship race.
W Series’ schedule for this weekend starts on Friday 22 July with a 30-minute practice session at 10.40 (local time, CEST), followed by qualifying from 19.25 to 19.55 on the same day. The race starts at 14.50 on Saturday 23 July and will be 30 minutes plus one lap.
British fans can watch the fifth race of the 2022 W Series season live from Circuit Paul Ricard on Sky Sports F1 from 13.30 BST on Saturday 23 July, with qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 18.10 BST on Friday 22 July. Highlights of the race will be on Channel 4 at 09.00 BST on Sunday 24 July.
W Series’ practice session will be streamed live globally across our YouTube channel from 09:40 BST on Friday 22 July. The action can also be seen across W Series’ digital and social channels, as well as being broadcast in more than 175 territories with a full list available here.