2019 was a great year for Jamie Chadwick, the 21-year-old British driver. She became the first female driver to win the MRF Challenge at the beginning of the year, signed as Development Driver with Williams F1 Team, won the SP8T class in Nurburgring 24h with her team at Aston Martin, and became the first-ever W Series Champion after winning two races and standing on the podium for another three races in the season.
In the winter of 2019 and 2020, similar to what she did last winter, taking advantage of the hot winter in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Jamie embarked on her journey at F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA with Absolute Racing. In Abu Dhabi, the third round of the season, she almost made history by winning Race 2 of that round. However, she was penalized for jumping the start and dropped to 8th place in the classification.
Four weeks after that bitter-sweet weekend, Jamie and the rest of the F3 Asian Championship paddock moved back to Sepang for the fourth round of the season. We had the opportunity to hear her thoughts on her season and the new W Series season. Let’s see what she has to say about her journey into Formula 1.
Paddock Sorority: Were you affected by the victory taken away from you in Abu Dhabi?
Jamie Chadwick: I wasn’t affected. What it showed to me was that we do have the capability to win races. The car was there for us to win on that day. Other than a small mistake from myself, there was no reason why we wouldn’t have won that race. If anything, it has affected me in a positive way. It gave me a bit more confidence that we can push for more strong results like that in the future.
PS: This is the fourth round of F3 Asian Championship, is it mostly what you expected? What aspects are unexpected or unprepared for?
JC: The objectives of this season in F3 Asian Championship is to get experience and some seat time in the winter. This is a perfect calendar slot to get some miles in the winter. Ideally, I’d like to also get some results as well with the Super Licence points in play. The season has been mainly what I expected. The level is very high this year with a lot of drivers coming in for the Super Licence points. It has been tough, especially because we came straight into it. It has not been straightforward for us to get the pace. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the season so far. What’s unexpected is mainly the variation in strategies and tires needed for the different tracks, with their different temperatures. It has not been as straightforward as in W Series or other championships. We constantly get things thrown at us. But I feel like we’ve prepared well and we’ve adapted well.
PS: Among the six newcomers into W Series 2020 season, who would be the biggest rival for you?
JC: I actually haven’t looked too much at the newcomers. I think this season is definitely going to be very competitive. We have a lot of drivers who became really strong at the end of last season. I’m sure they will be strong from the start of this season. I think there will be quite a few people challenging me this season. But hopefully, with the right preparation, we can stay at the front.
PS: On the W Series 2020 season calendar, the two rounds in North America will be supporting F1, would it be more important to win those two rounds considering the audience (including teams and sponsors) is different than those in DTM?
JC: Honestly, I don’t think it makes a difference. For every race, we will want to get the maximum out of it, whether it’s the beginning of the year, the end of the year, on the DTM package, or on the F1 package. What we did well last year was that we got ahead early on. We made the difference in the first few rounds, and that made it a lot easier at the end. We will definitely take the same approach this year to attack early on in the season, so I have some buffer at the end of the season.
PS: Is it a lot of pressure being the face of women in motorsport after winning W Series champion?
JC: Not really. I don’t really see it like that. I see it as a positive thing. Now I know what I’m capable of achieving both in and out of W Series. I want to go out and just do that for myself. If that has any positive effect on the rest of the world, then great!
PS: Seems like it’s still very difficult to get enough sponsorship for FIA F3, what are some of the concerns or pushback you heard from potential sponsors?
JC: I get great support from my existing sponsors and partners. But motorsport isn’t cheap. The budget for FIA F3 is huge. To get sponsorship for anyone to cover that is difficult. For me, it wasn’t necessarily about not finding the backing (for FIA F3). If I were to do FIA F3, I want to do absolutely the best I can. I want to do it properly with the right team. Off the back of last year, we wouldn’t have been in a position to get that. So we decided to have another year of preparation, making sure that I’m in the right position to take that step. In this way, when I do get the sponsorship, the money is going to a potential championship-winning seat. There is no point running a year if you are just struggling to get the result.
PS: What is your main point of improvement needed at this moment as a single-seater driver?
JC: I think I’m always looking to improve in all areas. I need the consistency to always get the maximum and make sure that I’m always pushing for the absolute limits. When we have the pace, we can be fighting at the front. It’s about making sure that every weekend we can do that and achieve that.
PS: What are some of the work you did for Williams in the simulator? For this new season, would you take on some new responsibilities?
JC: It’s a lot of development work in the simulator. I also do race support. When they are at the race tracks for the race weekend, I’ll often be in the simulator doing correlation runs to improve any setup correlations that we can feedback to the trackside team. I really enjoyed that in the past year or so. Hopefully this year I can do a little bit more. It’s more about managing my calendar to fit in with what they are doing. I’m still pushing them for a test drive in the car as well.
PS: Can you talk a little bit about the experience testing F2 and LMP3 cars for Autosport award?
JC: It was an incredible experience. I absolutely loved the whole few days. Silverstone was closed out for two days exclusively just for the four of us. To be able to jump between those cars was amazing as well. To get that experience to drive those high power cars was incredible. It kind of made my appetite for all different types of formula cars and machinery that much greater.
PS: You’ve tested Formula E before, would you consider a career in FE? Also, what about WEC for 24h Le Mans?
JC: 100%. I think Formula E is an amazing championship. It’s great what they are doing with such high-quality teams and drivers. Some of the places they go to are also great. Off the back of having driven the car, for sure I’d love the potentiality of a career. At the moment, my goal is still Formula 1 for as long as that’s realistic. Formula E is definitely something I’ll consider as well. For WEC, that’s something I’d love to do as well. I’ve had a long-standing relationship with Aston Martin in endurance racing. In the past three years, I’ve been doing a lot of endurance racing alongside the single-seater series. To race at Le Mans is another dream of mine, so this is definitely on my bucket list.
In Sepang, Jamie managed to get on the podium for Race 1 and Race 2. We’d like to congratulate her and Absolute Racing for these amazing results. This week, F3 Asian Championship heads out to Thailand for the final round of the season. We wish Jamie and the team the best of luck in the last three races. On another front, Formula E, where Jamie expressed her interest for a career, she also made some progress. It was announced yesterday that she will be testing with the Panasonic Jaguar Racing team during the in-season testing in Marrakesh on March 1.
We would like to thank Jamie Chadwick, Bruno Qi and Absolute Racing’s Race Engineer Ruben Casanova for all their help and support for this interview.
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