Spanish stars out to impress in Barcelona

Less than a fortnight since reigning double champion Jamie Chadwick celebrated the second of her two wins and a perfect start to her title defence at the spectacular 2022 season-opening double-header in Miami, USA, W Series travels to Barcelona, Spain, this weekend (20-21 May). 

The third race of season three – in support of the Formula 1® Spanish Grand Prix – starts a run of four straight W Series races in Europe, with events in the UK, France, and Hungary to come before F1’s summer break. Following that, the international single-seater motor racing championship for female drivers will stage a race in Asia for the first time – in support of the Japanese Grand Prix – before finishing the season in the USA and Mexico.

This may be W Series’ first race in Spain, but the 18 drivers on the grid are familiar with the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, as it staged this year’s pre-season test in March. A popular testing venue for the world’s leading motor racing series due to its all-round challenge, the 4.675km (2.9 miles) circuit has 16 turns and has staged F1’s Spanish Grand Prix since 1991.

W Series’ trio of Spanish drivers – Belén García, Marta Garcia, and Nerea Martí – will be eager to perform well in front of their home fans, from whom they can expect strong support, particularly Belen who lives only 15km (9.3 miles) away in L’Ametlla del Vallès, Barcelona.

W Series’ trio of Spanish drivers –Nerea Martí, Marta Garcia and Belén García,

All three will try to build on their strong starts to the season. Nerea is second in the championship standings having recorded the first pole position and second podium finish of her W Series career in Miami. Belen is seventh after backing up a top-10 finish in race one by equalling her best W Series finish of fourth place in race two. Marta is 12th but proved her speed in race one when she finished second before receiving a 10-second penalty for causing a collision, dropping her out of the points.

Jamie – who will celebrate her 24th birthday on the eve of Saturday’s race – leads Nerea by 27 points at the top of the standings and will attempt to continue her scintillating form at W Series’ first European race since September last year at Zandvoort, Netherlands. Jamie has won the last four W Series races and stood on the podium at the last nine – a run stretching back to the second race of last season at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on 3 July 2021.

Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand (TGRNZ) is supporting W Series with the logistics required to get racing cars to F1 race weekends in the most sustainable way this year. Toyota will send 18 of its FT60 cars to be used by W Series at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend, and at Suzuka, Japan, in October. It is the first time that series have worked together in this way to stage a championship.

W Series uses identical Tatuus chassis to the Toyota Racing Series, but with different engines, and the cars being shipped for those two events will 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. 

W Series’ schedule for this weekend starts on Friday 20 May with a 30-minute practice session at 10.40 (local time, CEST), followed by qualifying from 19.25 to 19.55 on the same day. The race starts at 14.40 on Saturday 21 May and will be 30 minutes plus one lap.

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, with qualifying live on the same channels at 18.15 BST on Friday 20 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 at https://wseries.com/where-to-watch/.

Dave Ryan (Racing Director, W Series) said:
“After a tricky start to the weekend in Miami when the drivers seemed a bit rusty and made some mistakes, the second race was a big improvement and there was lots of great racing throughout the field. I expect that to continue in Barcelona this weekend, especially given that defending champion Jamie Chadwick has already proved the value of consistency.

“There will be no excuses at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where the drivers got plenty of laps under their belts during pre-season testing just a couple of months ago. There is a good mix of high and low-speed corners, and lots of elevation changes which combine to make it an excellent all-round test.

“Once again, I would like to thank TGRNZ for the use of their cars this weekend. Andrew Davis and Nicolas Caillol have been very proactive after Bob McMurray made the initial introduction. Putting together an international racing series is a complex operation requiring lots of resources, and this is a good solution for W Series as it prevents the use of air freight and allows us to stage our F1 support races in the most sustainable way.”

Belen Garcia (Quantfury Racing W Series Team) said:
“The races in Miami weren’t bad but my results could have been better. Qualifying was a bit messed up because of the red flags, but that’s racing. In the first race, I had a clutch issue so I was a bit handicapped, but I still felt so much stronger in the car than last season and I showed that in the second race when I was hanging on to the front-runners. Now I’m confident that I can be fighting with them and that’s where I want to be for the rest of the season.

“I take great confidence into my home race in Barcelona. My form in pre-season testing was good so, if the car is good this weekend, I can fight at the front. As it’s my home race, I’ll be aiming for victory. I know that will be difficult because a lot of the girls want to win and it’s very competitive, but I have a chance.

“It will be a very special weekend. My family lives around this area and I’ll have my parents, my sister, my boyfriend, and my dog with me at the track and that’s an amazing feeling. My previous races at the circuit have been tough – last year I got hit from behind in both races in the Formula Regional European Championship – so I don’t have great memories. But at this year’s W Series pre-season test I felt at home on the track and that gives me extra confidence.”

Marta Garcia (CortDAO Racing W Series Team) said:
“I was angry in Miami because I thought the penalty I received was unfair, but there is nothing I can do about it so I’m moving forward to Barcelona where I will try to convert that anger into a strong performance. I’m putting the incident in Miami behind me and focusing on the fact that I improved as the weekend went on. I’ve been doing lots of simulator preparation for Barcelona and I want to keep improving on my weaknesses.

“It will be mega to race in front of the amazing Spanish fans. Barcelona is not one of my favourite tracks, but it can be a good weekend if I work hard. I prefer tracks like Miami with slow corners and chicanes where you need precise braking to get a good exit and gain time. When we tested in Barcelona in March, the third sector had changed since I was last there and it was less reliant on braking, which hurt me, so I need to improve that. But I improved in Miami and I’m confident of improving again in Barcelona to get good points for the championship.”

Nerea Martí (Quantfury Racing W Series Team) said:
“I’m very happy about my performance in Miami where I proved I’ve made another step up since last season. I still have to improve and learn from my mistakes, and there is a long way to go, but I’m on the way. I feel more confident and I’m eager to continue working hard, and the results in Miami have made me more motivated for the next races, starting with my home race in Barcelona.

“It will be super special to race in front of all the Spanish fans this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s going to be a very good race. All the drivers know the circuit having tested there earlier this year so I think it will be tight. It’s a circuit with fast and slow corners, so you need confidence and patience to do well in the race. The goal is to improve on the mistakes I made in Miami, to stay focused and be as consistent as possible to give me a good chance in the championship. I would love to win in Barcelona and I think I can.”