2022 Season Review

574 kilometres, 110 laps, seven races, five new drivers, four new circuits, three continents, and one three-time champion.

“W Series’ 2022 season started with a bang in Miami, and, after a tour of our European homeland, we raced in Asia for the first time,” says W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir. “Along the way, our drivers have wowed fans new and old, at circuits new and old, with some spectacular racing, and I am proud of them all. Their resilience, professionalism, skill, dedication, and determination to carve out opportunities for themselves in the male-dominated world of motorsport is truly inspirational. It is this which has always, and will continue, to drive everybody at W Series forward.

“Congratulations to our three-time champion, Jamie Chadwick, who has proved herself to be the class of the 2022 field. She is a trailblazer, inspiring the next generation and setting the benchmark for her peers, who are rising to the challenge. Indeed, the standard throughout the W Series field has improved immeasurably this year, vindicating the decision for her to defend her title again. The best women drivers in the world will always be welcomed with open arms by W Series.”

So, let’s look back at W Series’ memorable 2022 season…

Race 1: Miami International Autodrome, Miami, Florida, USA, 7 May

The waiting was finally over and, 195 days after the nail-biting finale to W Series’ second season, the international single-seater motor racing championship for women drivers’ 2022 campaign began with a double-header in support of the inaugural Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix.

W Series’ third on-track season started where the second left off in October 2021 – in the USA. But, where the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, was the stage when Jamie became a two-time W Series champion in front of a record 400,000 fans, the Briton began her title defence 1,326 miles (2,134km) away in Florida at the brand-new Miami International Autodrome.

Last season’s runner-up, Alice Powell, topped the practice session, but Nerea Martí was quickest in qualifying. The Spaniard pipped Jamie by less than one tenth of a second to secure her maiden pole position, but she couldn’t capitalise, making a slow getaway which allowed Jamie to take the lead at the start. She was overtaken by Emma Kimiläinen in the final third of the race, but regained the lead on the final lap after Emma ran wide at Turn 1.

Jamie said: “I don’t know if I deserved that victory. I struggled for pace, and Emma did a good job to get past when she caught me out. I was just trying to get some points as I was struggling. It’s a win and I’m a bit surprised by that, but I’ll take it and I’m happy as it’s a great start to the season.”

Race 2: Miami International Autodrome, Miami, Florida, USA, 8 May

Jamie started the second race of the opening double-header from pole position, as the drivers’ second-best qualifying time determined the starting grid. She completed a perfect weekend, with her fourth straight W Series race win, and eighth overall, achieved in much simpler fashion than her victory from the previous day. After an expertly controlled drive from pole, Jamie crossed the finish line three seconds ahead of Nerea, over whom she now held a 24-point lead at the top of the championship standings.

Jamie said: “I’m really happy with that win and happy to bounce back to be honest. I lacked confidence yesterday and didn’t feel like I deserved the win, so I’m happy to get that one under my belt. With the nature of the circuit and the heat, it was all about keeping it clean, making no mistakes and keeping the tyres in check. Nerea kept the pressure on, but I responded when I needed to, stayed calm, and managed the gap well which gave me some breathing space at the end.”

Race 3: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, 21 May

Less than a fortnight since Jamie celebrated the second of her two wins and a perfect start to her title defence in Miami, USA, W Series travelled to Barcelona, Spain. The third race of season three – in support of the Formula 1® Spanish Grand Prix – started a run of four straight W Series races in Europe. Although this would be W Series’ first race in Spain, all 18 drivers on the grid were familiar with the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which was the location of this season’s pre-season test in March.

Jamie turned 24 on the day of qualifying and celebrated her birthday in perfect style by taking the ninth pole position of her W Series career. The celebrations continued 24 hours later when Jamie made it five W Series race wins in a row thanks to a dominant lights-to-flag victory, leading every lap and recording the fastest lap to put the icing on the cake. Abbi Pulling was Jamie’s closest challenger, and her second W Series podium finish moved her into second place in the championship, 37 points adrift of Jamie.

Jamie said: “It was all about managing the tyres in that race and I managed to do that the whole way. In the last few laps, I got a bit nervy and was struggling when I came under pressure from Abbi, but fortunately I managed to hold her off and I’m really happy with the win.”

Race 4: Silverstone, UK, 2 July

After a six-week break, W Series supported the Formula 1® Lenovo British Grand Prix at Silverstone, where Jamie was attempting to win a W Series race on home soil for the first time. She gave herself the best chance by securing her third straight pole position in qualifying.

Despite increasingly persistent rain falling during the race, Jamie took a commanding lights-to-flag victory which saw her extend her 100 per cent record to four wins from four races in 2022. In the process, she took her points tally for the year to 100 and increased her lead at the top of the championship standings to 47 points over Abbi. Her compatriot finished third after making contact with Emma in the closing stages.

Jamie said: “It feels really good to win here and that’s a monkey off my back having not won a W Series race in Britain before today. I’m super happy with that drive. I got a bit nervy with the rain at one point but managed to maintain a good gap to the guys fighting behind me which was nice. I was really hungry coming into this weekend as this is the race all of the British drivers want to win, so it means a hell of a lot.”

Race 5: Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France, 22 July

75 days, 13 hours, 25 minutes. When the light at the end of Circuit Paul Ricard’s pit-lane turned green to commence the practice session for the fifth race of the season – and W Series’ first-ever in France – that is how long it had been since Jamie overtook Emma for the lead of race one in Miami. The reigning double champion had not looked back since, following up that dramatic initial victory with three dominant lights-to-flag wins and topping all seven W Series sessions – including practice and qualifying – along the way.

Beitske Visser finally ended that run during practice at Paul Ricard, and the Dutch driver would eventually be awarded pole position too. That looked to be Jamie’s after she edged out the 2019 W Series runner-up by one hundredth of a second with 90 seconds of qualifying remaining. But she was given a two-place grid penalty after the session for crossing the white line at the pit-lane exit in the closing stages, handing Beitske the first pole position of her W Series career.

She couldn’t convert it into a victory, however, as Jamie pulled off two stunning overtakes to secure her seventh straight W Series win in a run dating back to October 2021. Starting from third on the grid, the Briton twice passed pole-sitter Beitske during a dramatic race, which featured two safety-car periods and numerous wheel-to-wheel battles. 

Jamie’s fifth victory from five races in 2022 – and the 11th of her W Series career – gave her a 70-point lead over nearest challenger Abbi. Jamie finished the race, in support of the Formula 1® Lenovo Grand Prix De France, ahead of Spanish team-mates Belen García and Nerea, the former recording her best W Series result and maiden podium finish.

Jamie said: “I enjoyed that one and it makes up for yesterday. Getting pole position and having that taken away, I felt like I needed to make amends today. I’m really happy. Beitske kept me honest initially and I moved back after the safety car, so I’m happy that I got my head down after that and it feels great to get another win.”

Race 6: Hungaroring, Hungary, 30 July

W Series’ fourth and final European race of the year took place in support of the Formula 1® Aramco Magyar Nagydíj at the Hungaroring where, exactly 12 months previously, Jamie won to regain the championship lead. She had been on top spot in the W Series standings ever since then, with the proceeding nine races yielding two second-place finishes and seven straight wins.

Extending that run to eight would prove a step too far though. Jamie started from fifth on the grid – her lowest starting position since the first race of the 2021 season in Austria where she qualified eighth. Alice took the third pole position of her W Series career – more than a year after her second – and went on to control the race from the front, expertly negotiating two safety car restarts.

The race started behind the safety car after heavy rain earlier in the day, and Jamie had progressed to second place when the final 10 minutes of the race began. The safety car re-emerged following a retirement further back in the field, meaning Jamie was right on Alice’s tail when it returned to the pits with less than five minutes remaining.

Alice put the hammer down early to give her a lead of half a second as the drivers crossed the line, but Jamie had halved that advantage midway through the following lap. However, the champion then ran wide at Turn 11 to allow Alice to regain a lead of half a second. She extended that by two tenths as they began the last lap of the race, and kept her cool on the final circuit of 14 corners to take a deserved fifth victory of her W Series career.

Alice said: “It’s so good to be back on the top step. It’s taken longer this season than I would have liked, but to get my first win is amazing. Every single person on my car has done an incredible job so a big thank you to the team.”

Race 7: Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, 2 October

New surroundings but a familiar feel. W Series travelled to Singapore for its first-ever race in Asia, where Jamie would be 30 minutes plus one lap away from winning her third consecutive title. Holding a 75-point lead over Alice and Beitske, Jamie knew that finishing higher than that pair and Abbi – who was a further three points adrift in the standings – would result in title number three.

Despite a nine-week break since the previous event in Hungary – the longest mid-season gap between races in W Series’ history – Jamie displayed no rustiness as she set the pace in practice under the Marina Bay Street Circuit’s iconic floodlights. It was a very different story during a rain-curtailed qualifying session, however, which ended with Marta Garcia atop the timing screens for the second time in her W Series career. Beitske was second and Alice third, while Jamie could only manage eighth – her lowest starting position since the first race of the 2021 season in Austria where she qualified in the same position – meaning she would start the race in support of the Formula 1® Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix behind all three of her title challengers.

A weekend of firsts continued on Sunday. Beitske overtook Marta at the start and held off a strong and persistent challenge from Alice to claim her first victory of the season. Jamie made up places early on, but crashed out in the closing stages while running sixth – her first-ever retirement from a W Series race. Beitske’s victory saw her take second place outright in the championship standings, seven points clear of Alice in third, and 50 behind leader Jamie, whose third title was confirmed eight days later when the season was curtailed to prioritise fundraising for 2023.

Beitske said: “I was very happy with that one. It is such a relief to get the win and I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. I think it’s been coming for the last few races as we’ve always been there. I got a good start and in the first few laps I was very strong. Alice was a bit quicker after that, but I managed to hold her off and at the end I was strong again.”

Jamie said: “We all wanted to finish this season on track, but I’m very proud to be a three-time champion. Despite it ending early, it’s been an incredible season and I was pleased with my consistency, particularly before the summer break when I carried on the momentum I had built at the end of last year.

“I want to thank W Series for the opportunity it’s given me. It’s been life-changing and I’m so grateful to everyone that’s been involved and supported me to this point. From the first race in Hockenheim to now, it’s just amazing how far the series has come. To be able to develop throughout that time and learn so much as a driver and a personally, to be able to come out of it and continue to progress, has been so valuable. I really believe it’s put me in a really strong place going forward.”