After almost two years away from the track, W Series returned in style last weekend. With dramatic crashes and impressive performances, here’s what happened during qualifying and the race.
The driver taking pole position changed throughout the session, with 5 different drivers taking the top spot. Emma Kimiläinen set the early pace, but Alice Powell quickly set the fastest time. Jamie Chadwick then went fastest before Powell once again went faster. Chadwick retaliated by being the first driver to go under 90 seconds, with Belen Garcia then doing the same and taking P1 from the 2019 champion. Sarah Moore then joined these drivers, taking pole with seven minutes to spare. None of these drivers could ultimately compete with Powell, though. She set the only time under 89 seconds to take pole in Austria ahead of the first race of the season.
Alice Powell started on pole with Moore joining her on the front row with Garcia and Visser in P3 and P4. Champion Jamie Chadwick had engine issues during qualifying, meaning she started in P8 and had work to do on the opening laps.
Powell and Moore started well to stay in P1 and P2 while Beitske Visser hunted down Belen Garcia for third place. Chadwick gained three places to reach P5 by the end of the first lap, but this didn’t last long. The British driver was hit from behind by Jessica Hawkins. Jamie was left to fight from the back of the pack, while Jessica was down in P8 but quickly set the fastest lap and overtook Marta Garcia to reach seventh.
At the front of the race, Belen Garcia dropped Visser and was fighting Moore for P2. However, this didn’t last long with Garcia going wide and therefore relegated to P9, promoting Visser up to third.
With the race settling down, this was expected to be our top three, but an issue for Marta Garcia changed the race entirely. The Spanish driver pulled off the track with 8 minutes remaining, bringing out a safety car. This brought the pack together, giving the fans the sprint race to watch at the end. These are the races we enjoy watching the most.
With 4 minutes to go, the safety car went in. Powell and Moore pulled away well to continue their race, but the same could not be said for Visser behind them. After contact, Kimiläinen, the Dutch driver, dropped to the back of the field, pushing Wohlwend up to P3. With serious front wing damage, Emma Kimiläinen started dropping through the field quickly, ultimately finishing in P13.
Alice Powell had none of that misfortune, however. 686 days after winning the final race of the 2019 season, she won again, having led from beginning to end. Sarah Moore made it a British 1 and 2, with Wohlwend gaining places as others made mistakes to take the final spot on the podium. Having started in P8 and then dropping through the field after her incident, Chadwick performed well to take P7 in the race. This was once again improved when Jessica Hawkins was given a penalty for this crash, promoting the 2019 champion into P6.
Having waited an additional year for W Series to return, it was far from disappointing. The race had all of the drama that we expect from these talented drivers, and it is already clear that this season will be an exceptionally close and exciting one. With the next race just one day away, make sure you tune in to see these drivers in action once again.