Defending W Series champion Jamie Chadwick (Veloce Racing, GBR) will start the fourth race of the 2021 season from pole position after dominating Friday’s running in Hungary.
The 23-year-old Briton topped qualifying for the second time this season with a 1:42.735, which was a quarter of a second faster than championship leader Alice Powell (Racing X, GBR) who will line up alongside her compatriot on the front row. With the pair separated by just six points at the top of the championship standings and thunderstorms forecast tomorrow, Saturday’s race at the Hungaroring has all the makings of a classic.
Nerea Martí, 19, (W Series Academy Team, ESP) backed up her career-best fifth-place finish at Silverstone a fortnight ago by qualifying third, and the rookie will be joined by Beitske Visser (M. Forbes Motorsport, NED) on the second row. Nerea’s team-mate Irina Sidorkova (W Series Academy Team, RUS) and Bruna Tomaselli (Veloce Racing, BRA) make up row three, and were the only other drivers to get within a second of Jamie’s time. Marta Garcia (PUMA W Series Team, ESP), Emma Kimiläinen (Ecurie W, FIN), Belen Garcia (Scuderia W, ESP) and Jessica Hawkins (Racing X, GBR) completed the top 10.
Track temperatures decreased from more than 60 degrees Celsius earlier in the afternoon and that cooling, coupled with differing tactics over when to stop for fresh tyres, made for a highly competitive qualifying session, during which four different drivers topped the timing screens before Jamie had the last word with less than five minutes remaining.
Jamie – who won the second race of the season in Austria from pole position – set the early pace and traded fastest times with Irina and then Beitske during the opening third of the session, before improving her time with 19 minutes remaining to lead the field by three tenths. Just three drivers – Beitske, Irina and Alice – were within a second of Jamie’s benchmark at the halfway stage, by which time the majority of the field had pitted for fresh tyres.
Nerea went quickest by two tenths with six minutes to go but, as the clock ticked down to under five minutes, Jamie reclaimed her place at the head of the field by four tenths after becoming the first and only driver to dip into the 1min 42s. Alice went second with less than two minutes remaining and improved on her final run as the chequered flag dropped, but it wasn’t enough to topple her W Series title rival.
Earlier in the day, Jamie was fastest in the 30-minute practice session with a 1:43.317. Beitske was eight tenths behind in second place and was the only driver to get within one second of Jamie’s time. Fabienne Wohlwend (Bunker Racing, LIE) was a further three tenths back in third, with Marta fourth and Alice fifth. On her first competitive run in a W Series car since the final race of the inaugural season in August 2019, Caitlin Wood (PUMA W Series Team, AUS) was eighth quickest.
Dave Ryan (Racing Director, W Series) said:
“That was a good session. I think Jamie [Chadwick] clearly deserved to be on pole as she has been on it all weekend so far. It was good that Alice [Powell] pulled a lap out there at the end as she wasn’t looking too great for a little bit. I was very impressed with Nerea [Martí] as she looked strong all session, so I am very pleased for her. Irina [Sidorkova] improved from this morning when she was overdriving a bit, and Marta [Garcia] is making good progress so, all in all, a very good session.”
Jamie Chadwick, 23, UK, Veloce Racing, said:
“That was really good. I’m very happy to get pole position as my lap was actually really horrible, so it was a bit of a relief that no one was able to pip me in the end. The hard work starts tomorrow. I’ll need to get a good start at turn one and then it’s head down. It’s hard to pass here so track position will be really important from the start.”
Alice Powell, 28, UK, Racing X, said:
“That was better than the practice session, that’s for sure. We found a lot of time after making a couple of little tweaks to the car. I didn’t quite catch the peak of the tyres, which was frustrating, so I think there was a little bit more in it. I thought we had a five-second gap to the car in front and that was enough, but it wasn’t so that was a little bit my fault. Starting second is better than what I expected after practice, so I just need to get it off the line better than I did at Silverstone. For the race, I plan to fire it up the inside! Seriously, we have an F3 race which will hopefully clean the grid up a bit on that side, so I will have a bit of a look and go from there.”
Nerea Martí, 19, Spain, W Series Academy Team, said:
“I’m super happy because it’s my first time on this track. In the practice session I had a lot of mistakes because it was new to me, but in qualifying I found the solutions and got my best result of the season. I’m now concentrating on tomorrow. My plan is to keep my position and maybe overtake Alice [Powell] or Jamie [Chadwick]. I’d love to get my first podium, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself as it’s still my first season and I want to enjoy it and learn from it.”
Qualifying results from round four of the 2021 W Series season are below. For full W Series results and session timings from the Hungaroring visit our Hungary Round 4 race page.
British fans can watch the fourth round of the 2021 W Series season live from the Hungaroring on Channel 4 from 15.00 BST on Saturday 31 July. 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.