The British racing driver, who lost her chance at securing the W Series championship in Singapore after a crash, chats about her career so far and what lies ahead

W Series was in town for the first time over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend for its inaugural race in Asia.

Launched in 2018, W Series is a free-to-enter championship that provides equal opportunities for women in racing and eliminates the financial barriers that have historically prevented them from progressing to the upper echelons of motorsport—namely, Formula One (F1).

Current championship leader Jamie Chadwick was poised to clinch her third championship title here, having held a wide points margin ahead of her closest competitors. Unfortunately, the British driver, who races for Jenner Racing—a new racing team owned by Caitlyn Jenner—bowed out of the race early with a dramatic crash on lap 12. 

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Chadwick was inspired to start racing at the age of 11, following her brother Oliver into the sport. In 2015, she was the first female and youngest ever champion of the British GT Championship, following which she also claimed the title of first female winner of a BRDC British Formula 3 race and the MR Challenge Championship.

We spent some time with the 24-year-old before her first race around the Marina Bay Street Circuit, chatting about highlights of her career, as well as the challenges she faces in the traditionally male-dominated sport.

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It’s your first time racing the Marina Bay Street Circuit here in Singapore. How are you feeling?

Jamie Chadwick (JC): I’m really looking forward to it. Yes, it's my first time racing here and it’s one of those that I think is a tough one on the calendar but also more rewarding. So I am definitely very excited to get on track later today and throughout the weekend.

Yes, many drivers say the Singapore Grand Prix is the most physically challenging race of the season. How have you been preparing for it?

JC: I’ve done quite a bit of heat training to get used to what is going to be a very humid session for us. And then also, it’s a really tough track. There are 23 corners, there’s a lot to learn and we only have a half an hour practice to try and sort of get up to speed so I have just been trying to do as much in the simulator learn the track as best as possible.

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Photo 1 of 3 Jamie Chadwick is a British driver with Caitlyn Jenner's racing team, Jenner Racing (photo: W Series)
Photo 2 of 3 Jamie Chadwick is a British driver with Caitlyn Jenner's racing team, Jenner Racing (photo: W Series)
Photo 3 of 3 Jamie Chadwick is a British driver with Caitlyn Jenner's racing team, Jenner Racing (photo: W Series)

Can you tell me about two or three of the biggest highlights of your career so far?

JC: I’d say winning W Series last year was a big highlight, and the first year as well. I think they’re both big pivotal moments in my career. They’ve given me a big leg up. And then also earlier in my career when I was 13, I won a scholarship that gave me a fully funded season to racing cars—I think that was the big kind of first moment that I started to look at it as a more serious hobby and something I wanted to do professionally.

What do you love most about what you do?

JC: It’s hard to pick out just one thing. There’s obviously the speed and the adrenaline, but also, I’ve always wanted to do something in sport. I love the competitive nature, I love the feeling of winning and success. And I think in motorsport, there are so many variables and so many factors to get a result that when it all does come together, that reward and that feeling is, for me, the highest of highs.

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Above Jamie Chadwick (Photo: W Series)

As a woman in this male-dominated sport, what are the barriers that you face and how do you think we can tackle them?

JC: It’s a tricky one because I think the sport has generally become more accessible for everyone. But at the same time I do think there's a big benefit in creating more positive role models at the top level of the sport, not just as drivers but across the board—team principles, engineers and more—to show the young girls getting involved that it's not male dominated, and that is a sport that women are capable of being very competitive in as well. I think as a result of having more women in the environment, it will help to create a more diverse space.

Were you aware of the difficulties women face in motorsport when you first got into it as a child?

JC: I think definitely not, also because I wasn't from a racing background. I was also very blissfully unaware of being one of so few girls in the sport. I just did it because I loved it and I had the opportunity to progress and continue because of it.

Who is a sporting hero that inspires you?

JC: Right now it is Lewis Hamilton, who, obviously, in our sport is in my opinion, the greatest of all time. And then outside of motorsport there are people every day that I’m inspired by and whom I look up to and follow, like Serena Williams, for example. There are so many people that you can take bits and snippets from and be inspired by.

Speaking of Lewis Hamilton, he has been a vocal supporter of W Series and women in motorsport. What does that mean to you?

JC: He’s one of the big pioneers in supporting diversity in the sport across the board. And he actually came down to the paddock when we were in Hungary for a race and spoke to us. To have someone of his stature and with his achievements have interest in W Series and support it for the right reasons, I think really does show the credibility that the series is now able to have. I think going forward, it’s great to have Formula One drivers supporting W series and vice versa, because I think that’s how we can grow as a sport.

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You’re on your way to winning a third W Series championship. What's next for you after this season, and what else do you hope to achieve?

JC: We’ll see, I’m still open so for next year at the moment, but I’d like to progress out of W Series into the next feeder series, whether that’s Formula Three, Formula Two, or even in America. It’s yet to be decided. But my ultimate goal is Formula One, so I’m working backwards from that and trying to find the best way possible to get there.


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