Alice Powell held off Jamie Chadwick in a nail-biting sixth race of the 2022 W Series season at the Hungaroring to take her first win of the year and end her compatriot’s long unbeaten run.
A day after securing her first pole position of the season, Alice controlled the race from the front and expertly negotiated two safety car restarts to win the fifth W Series race of her career. Despite seeing her perfect start to the season and seven-race winning streak come to an end, Jamie’s second-place finish extended her run of W Series podium finishes to 13, and stretched her lead at the top of the championship to 75 points.
Alice’s victory – her first since September last year when she won at Circuit Zandvoort, Netherlands – moved her up to second in the standings, level on points with Beitske Visser who finished third for her second podium of the season.
Marta Garcia recorded her best result of the season in fourth having survived a late onslaught from fifth-placed Abbi Pulling who is now fourth in the championship, three points behind mentor Alice with four races remaining this season.
Fabienne Wohlwend scored points for the fourth straight race in sixth place. She was followed by Sarah Moore and Abbie Eaton, although the team-mates were being investigated after the race for overtaking under the safety car. Juju Noda and Bruna Tomaselli completed the top 10, the former scoring the first points of her W Series career in ninth.
Heavy rain fell throughout the morning and, although it had stopped by the 14:40 CEST start time, the track surface remained damp and Saturday’s race of 30 minutes plus one lap began behind the safety car.
All of the drivers started on slick tyres and, as they struggled to find grip on the first lap behind the safety car, Nerea Martí spun at Turn 10 and collided with a marker board before regaining control and returning to the track.
The safety car pulled into the pit-lane with 25 minutes left on the clock, and pole-sitter Alice retained her lead from Beitske at the opening corner. Marta followed the leading pair having been promoted on the formation lap due to Nerea’s error.
Jamie overtook Nerea for fourth at Turn 3, and Abbi followed her past the Spaniard, who made contact with Belen García two corners later, relegating the team-mates out of the top 10. That incident was being investigated after the race in support of the Formula 1® Aramco Magyar Nagydíj 2022.
Alice was under pressure from Beitske at the start of the next lap but managed to retain a slender lead of less than half a second. Jamie moved into the top three with a third of the race remaining when she overtook Marta and, now in clear air, she started chasing the leading pair and set three consecutive fastest laps to close to within a second of leader Alice at the halfway stage.
Jessica Hawkins had progressed from 10th on the grid to sixth before contact with Emma Kimiläinen at Turn 1 dropped her out of the points and caused the latter’s retirement. Shortly afterwards, the yellow flags were waving in sector two where Bianca Bustamante spun into the barriers at Turn 9 before limping back to the entry of the pit-lane where she stopped due to the damage caused.
Up ahead, Jamie went later on the brakes than Beitske at Turn 1 before pulling off the overtake for second place on the inside and making the move stick through Turns 2 and 3. Alice and Jamie traded fastest laps to be separated by one second as the race moved into the final 10 minutes, when the safety car came back out to allow Bianca’s car to be recovered.
There were less than five minutes to go when the safety car period ended. Alice put the hammer down early and that gave her a lead of half a second over Jamie as the drivers crossed the line. Jamie had halved that advantage midway through the following lap, but ran wide at Turn 11 to allow Alice to regain a lead of half a second.
Alice had extended that by two tenths as they began the last lap of the race, and kept her cool on the final circuit of 4.381km and 14 corners to take a deserved victory.
Alice Powell (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 29, UK):
“I was lucky to do some filming with the crowd earlier and it’s amazing, so thank you for the incredible support you’ve given all of us – the atmosphere is great here. It’s so good to be back on the top step. It’s taken longer this season than I would have liked, but to get Bristol Street Motors there with their first win in the championship is amazing. Every single person on my car has done an incredible job so a big thank you to the team.”
Jamie Chadwick (Jenner Racing, 24, UK) said:
“It’s roles reversed from here last year when I beat Alice [Powell]. If anyone was going to break that winning streak, I feel like Alice is a deserving person. I did what I could today. The wet conditions helped early on because it’s a really tricky circuit to overtake on, but at the end I didn’t have enough to challenge Alice. I’m still happy with second place, happy with the race and I go into the summer break really pleased with how the season has gone so far.”
Beitske Visser (Sirin Racing W Series Team, 27, NED) said:“It’s amazing to be back on the podium and to see so many Dutch fans here. It was a very good race and I’m very happy to be back up here. We were on wet set-up whereas the top two were on dry set-up, so early on I was quick but then the track dried and it didn’t work out. But my pace has been good all weekend and I’m looking forward to carrying this into Singapore and the rest of the races. If I can continue this progress, I’ll have a strong end to the year.”
Dave Ryan (Racing Director, W Series) said:
“It had the potential to be a pretty awkward situation this afternoon with the weather doing all sorts of things, but we’d planned for a few scenarios, and we were prepared to change things as we went into the start procedure, which we did. It worked out fine and we ended up with a very good race. There were a few silly incidents during the race, which I think the drivers will look at and say they could have avoided. But put that to one side and it was a great race.
“I thought towards the end that Jamie [Chadwick] might pull it off and, while we all love Jamie, I’m so glad Alice [Powell] won! There was some really good driving, it was good fun, and entertaining racing. The team did a really good job through difficult conditions today. A few drivers have had ups and downs during the weekend, but we got there today and everyone’s okay.”
For full W Series results and session timings from the sixth race of the 2022 W Series season at the Hungaroring, Hungary, click here.
The 2022 W Series season continues at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, on 30 September-2 October in support of the Formula 1® Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2022.