W Series’ return to Barcelona delivered the tightest racing of the season so far, with slim margins separating all drivers throughout the grid. Despite being subject to an aggressive attack from the drivers behind her, defending champion Jamie Chadwick continued her near-perfect pursuit for her third title. Here are F1 Feeder Series’ top 4 takeaways from Round 3.
By Aisha Sembhi
Two-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick delivered the first grandslam of the 2022 season, extending her Driver’s Championship lead by twenty-six points over her nearest competitor.
Round 3 marked the first time cars supplied by Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand (TGRNZ) were used, following collaborative efforts to transport cars to each circuit in the most sustainable way. The Toyota FT60 car will also be used in round seven at Suzuka, Japan, in October.
Grandslam finish for Chadwick’s fifth consecutive win
With the expansion of W Series coverage, Jamie Chadwick’s unparalleled consistency has undoubtedly made her the face of the championship. In pursuit of her third consecutive W Series championship title, Chadwick delivered a flawless performance in Barcelona. Securing the first grandslam of the season (achieving a pole position, win, and fastest lap, as well as leading every lap), the 24-year-old Briton has established a huge points lead over the rest of the grid.
“It was all about managing the tyres in that race, and I managed to do that the whole way.” Chadwick recalled post-race, “I’m really happy with the win.”
Pulling achieves her first podium
Unlike her previous victories this season, Chadwick’s route to the finish line was not without a consistent challenge. Racing X’s Abbi Pulling secured her first podium of the season with a second-place finish, applying significant pressure to the eventual victor in pursuit of P1. The 19-year-old Briton did not let Chadwick out of eyesight, maintaining an approximate one second gap between herself and the two-time champion: “I was right behind [Chadwick] on the last lap, and I know what I need to do in the next races to move forward again.” Though Pulling was, ultimately, unsuccessful in her attempts to best Chadwick, her performance (which also included an early overtake on her mentor, Bristol Street Motors’ Alice Powell), was easily a standout.
Pulling currently sits in second overall in the Driver’s Championship, thirty-seven points behind Chadwick. Despite Chadwick’s points advantage, Pulling currently appears to be her strongest rival. W Series Racing Director, Dave Ryan, reinforced this sentiment: “It’s pleasing to see [Abbi] do such a strong drive to come second. She is going to improve massively throughout the year, and I can see her pushing Jamie all the way.”
Quantfury’s all-Spanish line-up impress the home crowd
After three rounds, one team has established itself as the most consistent on the grid – Quantfury. The all-Spanish lineup, consisting of Belen Garcia and Nerea Marti, are the only duo to have finished in the points in all three rounds. At Barcelona, the home heroes finished in P7 (Garcia), and P8 (Marti), following an intense battle for P5 between CortDAO’s Marta Garcia and Sirin Racing’s Beitske Visser (in which, ultimately, Visser triumphed). The two Spaniards raced cleanly, reaching the finish line and securing a third consecutive points finish with relative ease.
Though W Series does not feature a Constructor’s Championship, it is clear that Quantfury’s drivers are amongst the strongest on the grid. Only nine points separate Garcia in sixth (24 points) and Powell in third (33 points) – an uphill climb is certainly possible for the young drivers towards the latter end of the season.
Rookies in the gravel – Chambers and Bustamante struggle
The 2022 rookies have been steadily improving with each round, something highlighted by Dave Ryan: “There was some good racing throughout the field. Its clear to see that the new drivers just need more time in the car.”
However, after a relatively strong start to the season, 17-year-old rookie Chloe Chambers had a difficult third round. Chambers qualified in sixteenth, maintaining her position at the back of the pack for a majority of the race. As the leaders took the chequered flag on the final lap, Chambers spun onto the gravel and triggered a yellow flag. She did not reach the finish line, but was still classified in eighteenth place overall on a weekend which did not see a retirement.
Similarly, W Series Academy driver Bianca Bustamante had struggles with car control midway through the race. She lost a position to Chambers after overshooting a corner, and skimming the gravel. After an initial points finish in Miami, Bustamante finished in the latter half of the pack in fifteenth in Barcelona, with teammate Juju Noda besting her for the first time this season.
However, with seven rounds to go, there is certainly room for improvement for two promising young drivers.
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