The inaugural W Series season kicks off this weekend and there is no better place to start.
|CHADWICK HISTORIC WINNER OF INAUGURAL W SERIES RACE|
Close racing at Hockenheim entertains fans
British driver Jamie Chadwick, 20, stood on the top step of the podium at Hockenheim today to become the first ever W Series race winner. The pole sitter had to cope with strong opposition from the 17 other drivers in the first race of the first ever single-seater series for female drivers only, but she mastered the tricky conditions in what was a closely fought opening round to the six-race competition.
Very wet conditions in qualifying were a challenge for all the W Series drivers, but Bath-born Jamie was at the top of the time sheets for most of the 25-minute session, Fabienne Wohlwend (from Liechtenstein) claiming the other front-row starting position and another Brit, Sarah Moore, third on the grid.
As weather conditions improved ahead of the race and the 18 cars lined up behind the start-line, nerves were understandably kicking in for all the drivers, but they did not show it. Jamie made a perfect start to lead the field; however, a brake issue for her at the hairpin gave Sarah a window of opportunity to steal the lead, which she duly did. Then, still on lap one, a collision at Turn Six resulted in Megan Gilkes (CAN) and Emma Kimiläinen (FIN) retiring and the Safety Car being deployed so that their damaged cars could be moved out of the way.
Then all eyes turned to Alice Powell (GBR) who climbed from P6 to P2, creating an exciting Brit-versus-Brit-versus-Brit battle at the head of the field. But Jamie fought hard to restore her lead, Alice hot on her heels in second and Marta Garcia (ESP) storming through to third, a line-up that then continued all the way to the chequered flag.
Behind that three-way battle there were some great fightbacks, several drivers making up places from lowly starting positions, among them Tasmin Pepper (RSA), who drove from 16th to eighth; but Miki Koyama (JAP) drove even more forcefully, moving from 17th on the grid to seventh at the flag, not only setting the fastest lap of the race but the second-fastest too, just 0.001sec slower than her best.
Hockenheim first hosted the German GP in 1970, but its history goes back much further than that, as a circuit was first built on the site as long ago as 1932. The version that would become famous, featuring two long straights in the forest, and a trademark twisty section past the huge grandstands in the stadium, was first seen in 1965.
Three years later the track became internationally known when double World Champion Jim Clark lost his life in an F2 race. Ironically it was concerns over safety at the Nurburgring that led to the German GP moving to Hockenheim on a one-off basis in 1970. However, by 1977 the Nurburgring was no longer suitable for F1 cars, and Hockenheim became the new fulltime home of the German GP.
And it has remained so for most of the past 40 years. However, over the last decade Hockenheim was used only in even numbered years. The track was shortened in 2002, with the long straights lost and subsequently reclaimed by the forests.
The F1 role of honour at Hockenheim includes many of the greats of the past 50 years, from Jochen Rindt, winner of the venue’s first Grand Prix in 1970, to Lewis Hamilton, who scored his third Hockenheim triumph in 2018.
Hockenheim was the setting for one of the most memorable victories by a female driver, and one that still has a unique place in the history books. On May 24th 1992 Ellen Lohr became the first and thus far only woman to win a DTM race, and she did it some style, overtaking her team mate and former World Champion Keke Rosberg on the way to the chequered flag.