Jamie Chadwick sets her sights on Formula One
British driver wants to compete against the men, but knows it will not be easy
Jamie Chadwick wants to be the first woman in more than four decades to race the men in Formula One, but she knows it will take much more than becoming the first champion of the all-female W Series for that dream to come true.
The $500,000 (R9.25m) prize the 21-year-old Briton pocketed for title success at Brands Hatch on Sunday will help only so far.
“I’m under no illusions as to how tough it’s going to get,” she said after clinching the crown with fourth place in the season’s final race.
Financial backing will be the biggest hurdle, despite having a factory contract with Aston Martin in sports cars, just as it is for anyone setting out to climb through the junior series.
“If you look at all the drivers who’ve made it into F1, they’ve all come with significant backing. Whether that’s personal or through sponsors or a team, none of them have paid their way scraping the barrel,” she said.
“So it’s tough, it’s the way the sport is, but hopefully this has put me in the best position to make that happen.”
The W Series, with identical Formula Three cars, aims to better equip female racers to take on the men further up the motorsport ladder.
The last woman to race in Formula One was the late Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.
The six-race women’s championship, criticised by some early on for separating the sexes, has garnered plenty of largely sympathetic media coverage and has been broadcast free-to-air in Britain, where Formula One is live only on pay TV.
“This year’s provided a platform I would never otherwise have had,” said Chadwick, who in 2018 became the first woman to win a round of the regular British Formula Three championship.
“I was relatively unknown coming into the season and now I think the leg-up it has given me has been huge.”
Tasmin Pepper, the only SA driver in Formula W, closed off her season with 12th place at the Brands Hatch season finale. She finished the series in 10th place, which guarantees her a seat in 2020’s championship.
Gasly out, Albon in
Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon will replace Pierre Gasly as Max Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate from the next race in Belgium until the end of the season, the Formula One team announced on Monday.
Underperforming Gasly will go in the other direction, taking British-born Thai driver Albon’s seat at the sister team where the 23-year-old Frenchman started out before being promoted at the end of 2018.
The Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit is on September 1, the first race after Formula One’s August break.
“Red Bull are in the unique position of having four talented Formula One drivers under contract who can be rotated between Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso,” Red Bull said.
“The team will use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance in order to make an informed decision as to who will drive alongside Max in 2020.”
The switch-around marks a meteoric rise for Albon, who was racing in Formula Two in 2018 and seemed destined for a future with Nissan in the all-electric Formula E series before Red Bull stepped in.
The energy-drinks brand had dropped him from their young driver programme in 2012 but he has seized the second chance they gave him.
July’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim was Albon’s first wet F1 race and he now finds himself in a winning car after just 12 Grand Prix starts.
Being up against Verstappen will be a tough challenge, with the sport’s youngest race winner the on-form driver and seen as a champion-in-waiting.
The Dutch 21-year-old has won two of 12 races this season and is third overall on 181 points while Gasly, the 2016 GP2 (now F2) champion, has struggled with just 63 points.
To add to his embarrassment, the Frenchman has been twice lapped by Verstappen.
Honda-powered Red Bull are third in the constructors’ standings but need both drivers finishing consistently high up to have a chance of overtaking Ferrari, who are 44 points ahead of them in second place with champions Mercedes far in front.
Team principal Christian Horner expressed his frustration at the most recent race in Hungary in which Verstappen started on pole position and finished second to Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton with Gasly only sixth.
“The start wasn’t great, the first lap wasn’t great and we shouldn’t be racing Saubers [the Alfa Romeo cars] and McLarens,” he said. “We need him to be racing Ferraris and Mercedes. The problem is he’s not in the mix at all.”
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