New surroundings but a familiar feel. W Series travels to Singapore this weekend for its first-ever race in Asia, where reigning double champion Jamie Chadwick will be 30 minutes plus one lap away from winning her third consecutive title.
The Briton has won five of the six races so far this term, her run of victories finally ended by compatriot Alice Powell at the previous event in Hungary on 30 July. Jamie’s runner-up finish at the Hungaroring means she holds a 75-point lead over Alice and Beitske Visser with four races remaining and a maximum of 100 points to be won. If Jamie finishes higher than Alice, Beitske, and Abbi Pulling – who is a further three points adrift in the standings – this weekend, then title number three will be hers.
Following a nine-week break – the longest mid-season gap between races in W Series’ history – the event at Marina Bay kick-starts a sprint to the finish, with four races at three events across five weekends in October. From Singapore, W Series heads to the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA, on 22-23 October, before concluding the season with a double-header at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City, Mexico, on 29-30 October.
This weekend, in support of the Formula 1® Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2022, all 18 W Series drivers will be eager to begin this final flurry of races with a strong result. Only Bianca Bustamante during her karting career has previously driven at Marina Bay, but that was not on the full circuit.
Making her 2022 W Series season debut is Ayla Agren, who replaces Tereza Babickova this weekend. While competing in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA) on 10 September, Tereza sustained a spinal injury during an incident in the first race of the weekend at the Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. She returned to her native Czech Republic to receive medical treatment, and doctors have ruled her out of all racing activities until further notice.
Ayla – who was born in Norway but has lived in Houston, Texas, USA, for several years – made her W Series debut last season, which she ended on a high by scoring points in the final race at the Circuit of the Americas. She has previously raced on the Road to Indy programme and worked as a spotter at numerous events, including the Indy 500 where, earlier this year, she spotted for seven-time F1 Grand Prix winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit staged its first F1 Grand Prix in 2008, when it hosted the first night race in the sport’s history. The 5.063km (3.14 miles) circuit features 23 corners and is one of the most physically demanding on the calendar due to the bumpy track surface and humid conditions.
W Series’ schedule for this weekend starts on Friday 30 September with a 30-minute practice session under the famous Singapore night race floodlights at 19.45 (local time, SGT), followed by qualifying from 16.45 to 17.15 on Saturday 1 October. The race starts at 16.45 on Sunday 2 October and will be 30 minutes plus one lap.
British fans can watch the seventh race of the 2022 W Series season live from the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sky Sports F1 from 09.35 BST on Sunday 2 October, with qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 09.35 BST on Saturday 1 October. Highlights of the race will be on Channel 4 at 16.45 BST on Sunday 2 October.
The action can also be seen across W Series’ digital and social channels, as well as being broadcast in more than 175 territories, with a full list available here.
Dave Ryan (Racing Director, W Series) said:
“Make no mistake, this week is a big challenge for the drivers. It’s a new circuit for us, track time is limited, the surface is bumpy, the walls are not far away, our sessions take place in a range of lighting conditions, and the heat and humidity are intense, even more so for our drivers than the F1 drivers given we will be on-track before sunset for qualifying and the race. It’s difficult to know what to expect, but I do know – as was proved at our first-ever street race in Miami earlier this year – that clean and consistent driving will take you far.”
Jamie Chadwick (Jenner Racing, 24, UK) said:
“The goal in Singapore is to win the title and my approach to the weekend won’t change. It’s too complicated to work out all the scenarios with the points and then drive tactically. I’ll just go out there and do the best job I can. There are still lots of races to go, so I don’t need to be conservative.
“It’s been a long break and tricky to get back into the swing of things. I’ve been training hard, and I went to one of the F1 races after the summer break. It was nice to be back in the paddock, but it gave me itchy feet to be driving again. I did a test in the USA with Indy Lights earlier this month, and it was great to have some seat time as it had been so long since I’d been in the car.
“I also had some down time over the summer and went to Singapore on holiday which was great. It was nice to get my bearings and acclimatise to the intense heat. I took a walk to Marina Bay and saw the last few corners of the circuit. It’s unbelievable where the track is in relation to the city, but it’s very cool and I can’t wait to drive there.
“The track surface is basically main roads which are used daily, so it’s constantly changing which makes it hard to prepare for. I’ve spent some time learning the circuit on the simulator at Williams, but it’s tricky because there are lots of corners. It will be tough, but it’s rewarding from a driving point of view because it’s got everything so it will be fun too.
“It’s easy to make a mistake, the grip is low in some places, and we’ll be out early so the practice session will be dusty. Keeping it on the road and managing the conditions will be key. Our sessions won’t be as late as F1’s, so it’s going to be hotter for us. But we’ve had lots of hot races already this year and I know what I need to do from a physical point of view.”
Bianca Bustamante (W Series Academy, 17, PHI) said:
“I’m so excited to head to Singapore for my first-ever professional race in Asia. The last seven months have been a whirlwind, travelling around the world and visiting new countries, so it’s special to return somewhere familiar and get the support from race fans across Asia.
“I’ve raced karts in Singapore since the age of eight, and it was always a dream to drive on the Marina Bay Circuit, so I can’t believe that dream is becoming a reality. I’ve been pushing myself a lot in the gym to make sure I’m able to maximise the car and the track, and I was fortunate to have a two-day test in Malaysia to prepare myself for the race.”