Jamie Chadwick clinched the inaugural W Series championship at Brands Hatch, beating rival Beitske Visser to become the series’ first champion. But what does the future lie for Chadwick after her success?
Chadwick’s fourth place was enough to leave her home race with the title, with a ten-point deficit to Visser, who ended the race in third behind race winner Alice Powell and Emma Kimilainen. The growing attention of the W Series and the success of Chadwick throughout the season has helped her become a household name in the series, earning a lot of support and interest within the Motorsport camp.
The prize of $500,000 Chadwick has won from the W Series is set to go towards her racing as she aims to progress up the Motorsport ladder. The aim for her is to reach Formula 1, but she still has a couple of steps left to make before she can think about becoming the first female driver in the sport since Lella Lombardi in 1976. But until then, what are her options after winning the W Series?
The prize money from the W Series aims to helps the drivers invest in their racing careers. Chadwick’s $500,000 is more than the yearly salary of McLaren F1 driver Lando Norris in his rookie season, but his salary is distributed by the team whilst Chadwick is still in the stage of her career where she’ll need to provide the funds and sponsors to her team in a bid to go racing.
After the Brands Hatch finale where Chadwick claimed the title, the Brit said that she plans to invest the money won into her racing and hopes she can be in a strong position for the future – but plans to take a holiday after the stress she suffered at her home race.
“Probably going to be unfortunately re-invested in my racing but, kind off want to take a holiday I think I need one after the stress that I’ve just been put through. May gained or lost a few years of my life,” said Chadwick.
“So yeah, definitely take a holiday and then back into racing. I think a lot of work to do over the winter for sure, we’ve always had the pace this year but a lot to work on.
“Whatever I do next year I want to be in a strong position, battle forward and we’ll see.”
Chadwick’s popularity since her success in the W Series has spiked, making a number of TV appearances on Sky News and BBC. Her appearance also generates viewership and recognition for the W Series, with Chadwick serving as a great ambassador figure for the championship, despite the controversy over the formation of the series at the end of 2018.
The strong performance from Chadwick in the series caught the attention of Williams Racing, signing the Brit as the team’s development and simulator driver. Chadwick will attend three Grands Prix in person, with one already being at her home race at Silverstone. As well as her role with Williams, Chadwick is also an Aston Martin Junior driver, having raced with the manufacturer since 2014 when she won the British GT Championship.
The W Series over 2019 has grown more than expectation, with the attendance at Brands Hatch for DTM and for the W Series’ final round doubled on from last year and with fans staying in the afternoon to see the finale take place. A lot of the support over the weekend was on Chadwick’s side ahead of the title fight with Visser.
With the success of the W Series behind her in what she described as her ‘toughest year’ yet, Chadwick will look at options over the break-in what she’ll do next in her career.
“From my point of view, obviously I want to explore the options.
“I guess the back of today (Sunday), I’m in a bit of a different position than I was 12 months ago. I’m going to explore more options. Nothing’s has really been dealt into at this point. If there are Formula 3 seats available I love to look into it but I think the way our sport works, there’s probably six seats you want in F3 and they get snapped up pretty quick.
“Now’s the time where the hard work starts and I’m not too sure but the W Series has offered the perfect platform so to send us in whatever we might do in the future.“
Chadwick has mentioned her interest in racing in the new FIA Formula 3 Championship over the weekend at Brands Hatch, stating that it’s a personal step she would like to make. However, the jump to one of F1’s support series isn’t as easy as it sounds, even with her W Series accolade.
The move to F3 would put her in the same environment as Formula 1 and the chance to impress in front of a global audience. However, the funding to find a seat in the series is around $1.2 million, more than double the amount Chadwick has won with the W Series. To find a top seat with teams such as Prema Racing and ART Grand Prix, may require more to have a chance of capturing a seat and increase her chances of winning.
The W Series after its success in its inaugural season is now recognised as a ‘Formula 3’ series, but not officially as the FIA want to push drivers to take the new ladder into F1 with the FIA Formula 3 Championship. But the recognition by the FIA has allowed the series to reward drivers SuperLicence points – a valuable asset needed to make it into F1.
The introduction of SuperLicence points could sway Chadwick’s decision into staying for another season, with her experience and speed in the series could see her finish at the top once again.
If Chadwick chooses to stay and is successful again, it would give her points and an increased chance of obtaining a SuperLicence within a three-year period before her W Series points expire. The increase attention of the W Series from a television perspective could mean an increase in the prize pool and for the overall winner.
With a title under her belt in the W Series, she is experienced enough with the Taatus F3 car to compete at the top level once again, and with the offer of Superlicence points available would seem like the right move.
But her personal goal of racing in FIA Formula 3 and be a step closer to F1 is possible, but could mean she will take up a seat with a team lower down the pecking order, facing a challenge to show off her skills unless she can bag the extra sponsors and money to increase her seat within the series.
“I’m not too sure yet. I think it obviously depends on tomorrow (Sunday’s race), but I think in the long run obviously the series offers SuperLicence points next year so potentially that could play a role into what I do.
“But as a driver, I want to step up and maybe do something like International Formula 3 or go on to jump out and step up again.
“When I say personally I want to step up to Formula 3 but realistically that might not be an option. There are 30 seats in that championship but you only really want six of them with the right teams, them to do it with the right teams is about another half a million or something stupid.
“The W Series prize money is fantastic, but sadly in Motorsport, it can be swallowed like that. I think it’s something we’ll have to think about and hopefully the attention that is brought on and kind of the exposure that is provided will help generate a bit more funding but if not, it is nice knowing that there is a potential to do another season of this, get more SuperLicence points for me for whatever is next.”
Whatever path Chadwick takes next year between the W Series or FIA Formula 3, the attention and fanbase will continue to follow her progress as one of the promising drivers in Motorsport and leading the torch for the future of female racing drivers. Her increased profile after winning the series has the potential to spark an interest in more sponsors and opportunities for the British driver in the future.