Reigning double champion Jamie Chadwick celebrated her birthday in perfect style by taking pole position for the third race of the 2022 W Series season in Barcelona, Spain.
The Briton – who turned 24 today – continued her scintillating form having won both races at the season-opening double-header in Miami, USA, a fortnight ago. Those victories gave Jamie a commanding 27-point lead at the top of the championship standings after two of this season’s 10 races, and she is now perfectly placed to extend that advantage in Saturday’s race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after securing the ninth pole position of her W Series career.
Jamie had the final say in a frantic qualifying session when several drivers held top spot. Her lap of 1:44.951 with less than five minutes remaining saw off a strong challenge from 2021 W Series runner-up Alice Powell by three tenths of a second. Abbi Pulling was a further two tenths back to make it an all-British top three.
Beitske Visser – runner-up to Jamie in W Series’ inaugural season in 2019 – was fourth and the only other driver to get within half a second of Jamie’s pole position time. Emma Kimiläinen overcame a pressure sensor issue from earlier in the day to be fifth, and she will line-up alongside Belen Garcia – who lives only 15km (9.3 miles) away from the circuit in L’Ametlla del Vallès, Barcelona – on the third row.
Fellow Spaniard Marta Garcia was seventh, as Sarah Moore, Jessica Hawkins and Fabienne Wohlwend completed the top 10. Nerea Martí – who is second in the championship – will start her home race from 11th on the grid.
Having staged pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at the start of March, a close battle was expected throughout the field this weekend – when W Series supports the Formula 1® Pirelli Gran Premio de Espana 2022 – and Friday’s qualifying session didn’t disappoint.
Using cars supplied by Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand (TGRNZ) for the first time, the drivers took to the circuit for qualifying with the track temperature at 45 degrees Celsius and tyre degradation high as a result. Jamie topped the timing screens after all the drivers had completed one flying lap, but she couldn’t improve on her second run, and it was Abbi who held top spot with a third of the 30-minute session gone.
Belen was the first driver to come in for new tyres with 19 minutes remaining. That prompted a flurry of activity in the pit-lane around the halfway stage when the top five of Abbi, Alice, Jamie, Belen, and Jessica were separated by less than two tenths of a second.
As the session entered its final 10 minutes, Sarah hit the front by six tenths of a second despite running into traffic in the final sector. Alice went quicker by two tenths, but just down the road her team-mate Jessica set two purple sectors at the start of her lap to improve by another two tenths.
Alice responded with five minutes remaining by knocking three more tenths off the benchmark, only for Jamie to beat that by four one-hundredths of a second on her first run on fresh rubber. Alice briefly held top spot again, but Jamie returned to the head of the field for the final time with less than three minutes left when she became the first and only driver to dip under 1min 45secs.
Earlier in the day, Jamie led the way in the practice session when her best lap of 1:45.517 saw her beat Belen by more than one tenth of a second. Abbi and Alice were the two other drivers to get within half a second of Jamie’s morning benchmark. Practice was red flagged after eight minutes when Nerea beached her car in the gravel after spinning at Turn 10, causing a seven-minute delay.
TGRNZ is supporting W Series with the logistics required to get racing cars to F1 race weekends in the most sustainable way this year. As well as being used by W Series at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend, Toyota’s FT60 cars will also be at Suzuka, Japan, in October when W Series will stage its first race in Asia.
W Series uses identical Tatuus chassis to the Toyota Racing Series, but with different engines, and the cars being shipped for the two events retain their Toyota engines. Sharing cars between the two championships helps to manage logistics and enables the use of sea, as opposed to air, freight, keeping the series’ carbon footprint as low as possible.
Jamie Chadwick (Jenner Racing, 24, UK) said:
“I’m really happy. That’s what I wished for when the W Series staff presented me with my birthday cake earlier! I couldn’t blow out the candle, but I wished for pole position, and I got it. It was quite a tricky session. I went on old tyres initially and it was a massive step from the old to the new tyres, and I knew if I didn’t make a mistake, it would be okay. But it’s quite hard not to make a mistake! On the new tyres I just had loads more confidence. Tomorrow will be all about tyre management, but I’m happy that on the new tyres we can get there.”
Alice Powell (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 29, UK) said:
“It’s frustrating really. I was struggling with a long brake pedal for most of that session, so I kept locking up and I had to keep adjusting the bias. But in some corners, especially out of 13 and 14 – where I just couldn’t tap the pedal – and when I got to the chicane, it was quite long. I kept struggling with oversteer a lot as well. Then we had one more push lap and Bianca [Bustamante] was on the racing line going slowly. It’s frustrating but we improved from practice and hopefully we will move forward again tomorrow.”
Abbi Pulling (Racing X, 19, UK) said:
“It was a really good session and I’m happy. I started off great as on the first set of tyres I was on pole. Then my headphones came out and unplugged, so I had no communications from my engineer. I didn’t see the pit board and I pitted a lap too late, but I thought this was about the time we needed to pit. I came in and luckily only lost one lap, but it wasn’t ideal. There are still some things for me to look at because I want my tyres to last for the whole race, so we will see how that goes. I’m obviously over the moon compared to what happened in Miami, so hopefully we can convert this into some good points.”
Provisional qualifying results for the third race of the 2022 W Series season are below. For full W Series results and session timings from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain, visit our race page here.
W Series’ schedule for this weekend continues tomorrow (Saturday 21 May) when the race of 30 minutes plus one lap will start at 14.40 (local time, CEST) on Saturday 21 May.
British fans can watch the third race of the 2022 W Series season live from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Mix from 13.20 BST on Saturday 21 May. Highlights of the race will be on Channel 4 at 09.00 BST on Sunday 22 May. 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.