W Series announces that Abbie Eaton will make a full-time return to the series, completing the 18-seat grid for the 2022 season.
Abbie made her W Series debut in 2021 and recorded four top-10 finishes from the first six races. A back injury in the first race of the season-ending double-header in Austin, USA, in October, brought Abbie’s season to a premature end, but the Briton – an on-screen test driver for Amazon Prime’s ‘The Grand Tour’, and an ambassador for Racing Pride which promotes LGBTQ+ inclusivity within motorsport – has worked tirelessly during the off-season to regain full fitness.
The 30-year-old will now make a full-time return for season three, competing for the Scuderia W Team alongside fellow Briton Sarah Moore (28), who finished fifth in last season’s W Series championship.
Ayla Agren (28, NOR) – who is based in Houston, USA, and scored two top-10 finishes during her maiden W Series campaign last year – is confirmed as a reserve driver for the 2022 season, which comprises 10 Formula 1 support races at eight grand prix weekends, starting with a double-header in Miami, USA, on 6-8 May.
Dave Ryan (Racing Director, W Series) said:
“I am pleased to welcome Abbie Eaton back to W Series for season three. She was unlucky last year when a bad back injury in the penultimate race brought her season to an early end, but she had gone to Austin just three points off the top eight and automatic qualification for 2022. She performed consistently in the first six races last year, and has shown immense courage and determination throughout the winter to return to full fitness. Abbie is a great role model for the younger drivers joining the series this season, and it’s clear that she deserves a seat on the grid in 2022.”
Abbie Eaton (Scuderia W) said:
“To have another opportunity with W Series is what I’ve wanted ever since I broke my back six months ago, so I’m relieved that all my hard work has paid off. I’m super excited to be back and hoping to get stronger as time goes on, but the tests and races I’ve done over the last few weeks have been promising and I’m looking forward to the first race in Miami. I want to say a huge thank you to all of my friends, family, physios, trainers, donators, and neurosurgeon for helping me get back so quickly, and to W Series for giving me another chance.
“It’s been an off-season unlike any other. I’ve been having physio three times a week, strength training three times a week, and rehab to try to rebuild strength around my back. Wearing a brace and being immobilised for so long reduced strength in my entire body, so it’s been tough. In a normal off-season, I would have had six months of proper strength training and I’ve only really had it for the last six weeks, but that’s been good for me mentally as well as physically.
“Mentally the injury has affected me in so many ways. When it happened, you’re thinking: ‘Is this going to affect the rest of my life?’ Having the brace on 24 hours a day was physical and mental torture, but I coped with it by telling myself it could have been a lot worse – I could have been unable to walk again, so I really couldn’t grumble and, when I was feeling down, I used that to give myself a kick up the backside and keep pushing. When I got back in the car, I knew I was putting myself in a risky situation, but that’s what being a racing driver is all about and I thrive off it, so I didn’t think about the injury once, I just thought about being fast.
“My best finish last year was sixth and I’d love to be at the sharp end of the top 10 more often this season, but it’s a very strong grid and my preparation for this year has been very different, so it’s a tough goal but a realistic one if everything comes together. Sarah [Moore] was quick last year so it’ll be great to work with her. We’ve been friends for a long time so there’ll be lots of northern banter and cups of tea doing the rounds which I’m really looking forward to.”
The full driver line-up for the 2022 W Series season is as follows:
|Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team||Alice Powell (UK, 29) and Jessica Hawkins (UK, 27)|
|CortDAO Racing W Series Team||Fabienne Wohlwend (LIE, 24) and Marta Garcia (ESP, 21)|
|Jenner Racing||Jamie Chadwick (UK, 23) and Chloe Chambers (USA, 17)|
|Puma W Series Team||Emma Kimiläinen (FIN, 32) and Tereza Babickova (CZE, 19)|
|Quantfury Racing W Series Team||Nerea Martí (ESP, 20) and Belén García (ESP, 22)|
|Racing X||Abbi Pulling (UK, 19) and Bruna Tomaselli (BRA, 24)|
|Scuderia W||Sarah Moore (UK, 28) and Abbie Eaton (UK, 30)|
|Sirin Racing W Series Team||Beitske Visser (NED, 27) and Emely De Heus (NED, 19)|
|W Series Academy||Bianca Bustamante (PHI, 17) and Juju Noda (JPN, 16)|
|Reserve driver||Ayla Agren (28, NOR)|