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Jamie Chadwick continued her domination of the all-female W Series, which is part of the undercard at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Chadwick, of Jenner Racing, cruised to victory at Silverstone to make it four wins out of four in 2022. Finland's Emma Kimilainen crossed the line in second ahead of Chadwick's closest title rival Abbi Pulling, although the pair are under investigation for a collision in the closing stages. Pulling attempted a move up the inside of Kimilainen but made contact and spun her round. Pulling moved ahead for second place but, seemingly suffering with damage, Kimilainen chased her down.
Chadwick won the W Series, which didn’t run in 2020, in both 2019 and 2021 and looks set to retain their crown this year. And her performance at Silverstone led to fresh calls for the 24-year-old from Bath to move up to either Formula 3 or Formula 2, the feeder series towards Formula 1. After her win at Silverstone, fans have been debating what should be her next move.
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One Twitter user said: “Few things come to mind. Is JC good and the rest very average, or are the rest very good and she's a once in a generation epic talent? As many have said, she must start progressing now to F3/F2 to evolve her talent and give them other drivers a chance or the series will stagnate.”
Another added: “Some kind of promotion for her into F2 seems well deserved, as she is quite a cut above the rest of the field.” A third said: “There has to be an F1 drive for you at last! Awesome drive Jamie as always!”
However, Chadwick herself isn’t so sure that F1 will be attainable for a female driver, but is determined to find out. “I have set myself a goal of competing in Formula One but I don’t know what is actually possible,” said Chadwick, who is a development driver for Williams, earlier this week.
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“To get into Formula 1 you have to go through the feeder series – Formula 3 and Formula 2 – and it is extremely physical. Formula 1 is extremely physical, and we don’t know exactly what women are capable of in the sport. If you are aged 15 or 16, and go into car racing, without power steering and driving big heavy cars, a lot of women do struggle, even though they have been successful in go-karting.
“We like to think that women can make it – and I am happy to be the guinea pig and will do my best to push and explore the options to Formula 1 – but we don’t know. There hasn’t been a woman in the recent era that has done it. I am trying to understand whether that is to do with the physical side of it.
“If it is physically possible, and women can compete against men, how do we make that happen? However, if it is physically too hard, but the sport wants women to compete, than we have got to bring it back and understand why.”
Chadwick believes a number of technical changes need to be made to aid female racers.
“I don’t think it is just as straightforward as getting stronger in the gym and jumping in the car,” she said. “Although our sport is incredibly advanced with a lot of things, the physical human performance side is misunderstood.
“In Formula 2 and Formula 3, the steering wheels are all identical and they have a thick grip. How can we make them thinner because women’s hands are not necessarily that big?
“How can we make sure there are no restrictions on how close the pedals are so you can get the right leverage? And some of the newer tubs in the cockpit are really narrow. Women with bigger hips can’t fit into them comfortably.
“A lot of these things have been overlooked for obvious reasons but now we need to see whether that does make a difference to performance.”
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