A flawless performance at the Circuit of the Americas saw Jamie Chadwick (Veloce Racing, GBR) take her second consecutive race victory at the season-ending double-header and become a two-time W Series champion.
The 23-year-old Briton – who won the seventh race of the season in Texas on Saturday – completed a perfect weekend by leading from pole position to the chequered flag and recording the fastest lap in Sunday’s race. Jamie beat Abbi Pulling (PUMA W Series Team, GBR) by five seconds to claim her fourth victory of the season, successfully defend the title she won in W Series’ inaugural season in 2019 and scoop the $500,000 top prize and maximum 15 FIA Super Licence points on offer.
Alice Powell (Racing X, GBR) went into the season finale as the only driver who could deny Jamie the title, and the 28-year-old finished sixth on Sunday to end the season 27 points behind Jamie in the championship. Emma Kimiläinen (Ecurie W, FIN) scored her fourth straight podium finish to seal third place in the standings.
Abbi continued her run of improving in every W Series race she has competed in by getting her maiden podium finish on her fourth appearance. That result saw the youngest driver on the grid in Austin end the season in seventh place in the championship. The top eight drivers qualify automatically for the 2022 W Series season, and Beitske Visser (M. Forbes Motorsport, NED) claimed the eighth and final spot by coming home fifth on Sunday. Sarah Moore (Scuderia W, GBR) finished fourth in the race and fifth in the championship – one place behind Nerea Martí (W Series Academy Team, ESP) and one ahead of Fabienne Wohlwend (Bunker Racing, LIE).
Sixteen drivers started the final race of the season following the withdrawals of Abbie Eaton (Ecurie W, GBR) and Marta Garcia (PUMA W Series Team, ESP). Abbie suffered a T4 compression fracture during yesterday’s race at COTA, while Marta was unwell. W Series wishes both drivers a speedy recovery.
On an overcast and damp morning in Austin, the front-row line-up was the same as it was for Saturday’s opening race of the weekend but with roles reversed – Jamie starting from pole position and Abbi from second on the grid. In front of a capacity crowd of 140,000, Jamie got a great launch off the line to leave Abbi in her wake and establish a lead of 1.5 seconds over the rookie by the end of the first lap.
Behind the leaders, Emma made up three places on lap one – going from sixth to third – while Alice overtook team-mate Jessica Hawkins (Racing X, GBR) for seventh position. Fabienne dropped out of the top 10 after running over the kerbs on the exit of Turn One – a move which forced her to retire from the race due to suspension damage in the closing stages.
Jamie set the fastest lap after seven minutes to increase her advantage, which stood at 1.9 seconds with a third of the 30-minute race gone. Alice was 10 seconds off the lead and lapping one second per lap slower than Jamie, as she came under pressure from home favourite Sabré Cook (Bunker Racing, USA) who had made her way past Jessica for eighth position. With 17 minutes remaining, Sarah overtook Beitske for fourth on the inside at Turn One.
Jamie continued to post consistent lap times in the clean air and led Abbi by three seconds at the halfway stage with Emma a further second adrift in third. With 10 minutes to go, Alice attempted to pass Belen Garcia (Scuderia W, ESP) at Turn One, but was too late on the brakes and ran wide on the exit of the corner to hand the place straight back to the Spaniard.
Jessica went for an overtake on Sabré at Turn 12 with six minutes left on the clock, but the pair made contact and spun as the former tried to go up the inside. Two minutes later, Alice finally made a move on Belen stick at the first corner to take sixth place, and that was the last of the overtaking action among the front-runners as Jamie cruised to victory.
Jamie Chadwick, 23, UK, Veloce Racing, said:
“That was a mega end to a mega year. It feels so good to finish it off like that – what a win! Thank you to W Series, Veloce, Formula 1 and everyone who’s supported me. It means so much to defend my title. It’s been really hard work this year as I’ve been pushed all the way by Alice [Powell]. The stakes were higher this weekend with the double-header, but to seal it by winning both races makes it so much sweeter and I’m delighted to come out on top. Massive congratulations to Alice who’s pushed me really hard, and it was a tough weekend for her with some issues which were out of her hands. I’ve got an amazing relationship with the Williams F1 team who have helped me win this championship so I’m really grateful to them. I don’t know what’s next for me, but I’ll enjoy this moment and go from there.”
Abbi Pulling, 18, UK, PUMA W Series Team, said:
“I didn’t quite believe it when I crossed the line. I’m gutted that I couldn’t put a bit more pressure on Jamie [Chadwick] but she just had the legs on me and I was maintaining the gap behind. Emma [Kimiläinen] was trying to put pressure on me, but I kept my head pretty composed and made sure that the tyres lasted the whole race because that’s what I struggled with yesterday – I learnt a lot from that race and took it into this one.
“I didn’t expect to be here this year, so to have been at three race meetings and get into the top eight in the championship is very special. I wanted to get in the top 10 so finishing seventh has exceeded all of my expectations. This weekend has been one to remember. As happy as I am about my result, I’m really gutted for Alice [Powell] and how the championship fight ended for her. I wish that she didn’t have the problems she had at the start of the weekend, and I know how she must be feeling right now. She’s given me so much support throughout the year and I wouldn’t be standing here now if it wasn’t for her. She’s taught me all I know.”
Emma Kimiläinen, 32, Finland, Ecurie W, said:
“Another podium finish feels good. I was trying to catch Abbi [Pulling], but I ended up with quite a lot of understeer and when you are driving behind someone you get aero wash, especially in those fast corners in sector one. It was so hard, I couldn’t turn the car and lost everything I gained in sector three. I did my best, brought the podium home and, after starting from sixth, I must be happy with that. Third place in the championship is a really good job. Unfortunately, the first half of the season was a little bit flat for me but, luckily, I got to turn it around and it has shown me that I have the potential to win the title next year.
“I really want to thank my team Ecurie W. I have had some changes with engineers this season and it has worked really well. We were struggling so much this weekend in the practice sessions, but then we figured it out and I am so proud of my team who have worked so hard. Greetings to my other engineer, Danny, who was watching from another race meeting today. I miss you. Thanks to Laney who was here with me and really supportive. I am blessed to be working with such talented people.”
Dave Ryan, Racing Director, W Series, said:
“If you look at the race itself with Jamie [Chadwick] starting at the front, taking the lead immediately and just controlling it, that kind of sums the race up from a championship point of view. She’s been pretty relaxed all weekend. She’s looked very confident and shown that on the track, so well done, Jamie, a brilliant job. Emma [Kimiläinen] has come alive again. She’s driven very well here. She struggled a little bit in practice, but she’s done very well and came through today. Alice [Powell] was on the back foot starting where she was. It was close but not close enough for her.
“What was also interesting was the battle for the top eight. Irina [Sidorkova] was ninth, but she was guaranteed a place in 2022 because of her Academy spot. Jessica [Hawkins] came into this race needing to gain a point on the people ahead of her and you could see in the last few laps before her accident that she was trying a bit too hard and the inevitable happened. But it was a good race and a good way to end the championship. We knew Abbi [Pulling] was good. We had an agreement with her British F4 team earlier in the year that we wouldn’t give her a drive if it compromised them. I’m very pleased that we honoured that and it was only when she had to withdraw from that championship that we were able to, with a clear conscience, put her into this championship. She’s a good young driver and she’s shown that here.
“This season has been good and it’s been tough. Everyone has had to deal with COVID-19. In Austria we had a crowd and in Zandvoort we had a big crowd. Coming here to Austin, this is what racing is all about. We’ve had an incredible crowd, an enthusiastic crowd. It’s been a fantastic event and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Catherine Bond Muir, Chief Executive Officer, W Series, said:
“First and foremost, huge congratulations to Jamie [Chadwick] on becoming the 2021 W Series champion. Jamie has displayed remarkable consistency this year and been rewarded for her resilience having been pushed all the way by Alice [Powell]. Alice will be disappointed having come so close to winning her maiden title, but that is because she too is a champion who has been a credit to herself and W Series this year. Their enthralling title battle has captivated huge audiences around the world and the only way is up for them both. I will watch their progress with great pride.
“I am sad that the season is over because it has been such a successful one. Our landmark partnership with Formula 1 – the world’s premier motor racing series – has given our immensely talented group of drivers the chance to showcase their skills on the sport’s biggest stage, and they have seized the opportunity with both hands. I would like to thank Formula 1 and all of our partners – Acronis, Bristol Street Motors, Heineken, Hankook, PUMA, ROKiT, Ferrari Trento, U-Mask and Waterbox – for their continued support. Roll on 2022!”
For a full breakdown of season standings and race results, visit here.