2019: One year of awards
Wrapping up 2019: it's now time for gala dinners and award nights. Here are the prize-winning female racers of the year.
With every year coming to an end, the focus of the motor racing world switched from race tracks to some of the most exclusive gala dinners and award ceremonies.
Many prestigious awards have in fact been handed during these final days of 2019; it was a year full of ground-breaking news and successes for female racing drivers, which were also reflected in this award season.
It certainly was the year of the W-Series debut, which brought radical innovation in the industry and brought the theme of challenging gender stereotypes within motorsport at the forefront. It was then no real surprise to see Catherine Bond Muir, CEO of the championship, collecting one of the most important prizes at the Autosport Awards, held at London's Grosvenor House on Sunday December 8th. At the "Greatest Night in Motosport", W-Series was honoured with the Pioneer and Innovation Award, while inaugural champion Jamie Chadwick was also shortlisted for the top-prize, the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award.
“This is a stunning night for W Series,” - said Catherine Bond Muir. “And it caps the most incredible first year for us, our drivers and our business partners. But even though we’re celebrating tonight, we remain firmly committed to our mission to increase the number of women in the sport that we all love – and awards such as these make us more and more determined to succeed.”
Former recipient of the award were safety milestones such as the SAFER barrier (in its inaugural edition, 2004) and the HALO (2018) and other series that have written important pages of the recent motorsport history, such as GP2 and Formula E.
New British racing sensation Jamie Chadwick, the only junior driver to clinch two titles in 2019 (W-Series and MRF Series), was nominated in countless award nights as Sportswoman of the Year and received one more prestigious trophy on December 9th, as she was announced winner of the BRDC Special Achievement Award, in recognition of her achievements in W-Series and for "capturing the imagination of a new generation of female racing drivers".
Under the direction of new BRDC President David Coulthard, Chadwick wasn't the only woman to receive a prestigious award in the annual celebration of BRDC member's successes: German Sophia Floersch was also invited on the stage to accept the Innes Ireland Trophy, "having best displayed the qualities of courage and sportsmanship epitomised by the late former President of the BRDC, Innes Ireland."
Floersch spoke about her return to racing after the infamous crash in Macau last year and subsequent rehabilitation, a few weeks after her stunning return to the Guia Street Circuit in 2019.
W-Series and Jamie Chadwick were also recognised by the UK Guild of Motoring Writers, the world's largest association of automotive editorial professionals. In its 75th annual prizegiving gala in London, the all-female championship received the award for its special contribution to motoring. “We’ve had an incredible debut season, and we’re honoured to have recognition from so many different quarters." - commented Catherine Bond Muir. "Encouraging more women into motorsport is just a part of a better sporting world that we’re all striving for, where gender balance is the norm rather than a mission.”
Joining the likes of names such as Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and George Russell, Jamie Chadwick was awarded Driver of the Year in the same night. “This is an incredible honour and the icing on the best year of my racing career so far." - said Jamie. "To be mentioned in the same breath as many of my own sporting heroes is amazing, and one day I hope to be able to inspire a new generation of boys and girls in exactly the same way.”
Representing the 75-years old association of some of the most important motoring professionals in the world, Richard Aucock said that “W-Series stood out for its disruptive approach and strong mission-led vision in what is traditionally a male-dominated sport."
"If any of us had any doubts about its success, we only had to look as far as Jamie Chadwick, the first W-Series champion, and a Williams Formula 1 development driver, and our Driver of the Year, for proof of what can happen in a single year."
W-Series also held its very own awards night, when at the glorious venue of the London Gherkin, the series celebrated its first season and champion. All the 20 drivers were officially handed their prize money, with Chadwick, Visser and Powell banking the 500,000$, 250,000$ and 125,000$ cheques.
Emma Kimilainen was votes as the "Driver's Drivers", while Fabienne Wohlwend received the "Spirit of W-Series Award", for reflecting the ethos and purpose of W Series itself.
Sabré Cook won the "Striving Forward" award for the most race positions gained during the course of the season, as Marta Garcia and Jessica Hawkins received two more sarcastic prizes: the Spanish race winner was handed the "Best Blooper" award following the hilarious Champagne fumble on the Hockenheim podium and "Best Radio Message" award was assigned to Jessica Hawkins, for her always entertaining language.
Concluding an extraordinary debut season, W-Series won the online-based and fan-voted Motorsport Award for "Best New Racing Series of 2019" on 15th December.
The motor racing award season wouldn't be complete without the exclusive ceremony of the FIA Gala, one of the year’s most anticipated events within the motorsport community.
After visiting iconic venues such as Doha, Vienna and Saint Petersburg, the Carrousel du Louvre hosted this year the annual Prize Giving Gala, where all the FIA Champions were crowned in a star-studded event.
Finnish Top Fuel racer Anita Mäkelä, winner of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship received her trophy, as well as young Dutch racing driver Nina Pothof, inaugural champion of the FIA Motorsport Games in the Karting Slalom competition.
Belen Garcia officially became the Spanish Formula 4 Female Trophy champion during the "Gala de Campeones" on 13th December, as the Real Federacion Espanola de Automovilismo crowned its national champions.
More national federations awarded their upcoming talents, with the Polski Związek Motorowy (Polish Automobile and Motorcycle Federation) and the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs Ontario assigned prizes to W-Series drivers Gosia Rdest and Megan Gilkes.
Gilkes, winner of the non-championship race at Assen, received the Wayne Kelly Memorial Trophy, awarded to the Ontario region club member who has brought special recognition and prestige to Ontario motorsport.
"This is huge for me as I started my racing career with the CASC, and many of my first competitors are still there, as well as the best volunteers, officials and particularly grid marshals that I have met anywhere that I’ve raced." - wrote Gilkes. "Unfortunately I wasn't able to be there to accept the award in person as studying and labs at Imperial College in London prevented me, but for sure I will be seeing everyone at Mosport and Shannonville next season. I’m working on my final plans for racing in 2020 and hope to be able to share those with you very soon."
Following her debut in both W-Series and Asian Formula 3, Vivien Keszthelyi became the most successful Hungarian F3 driver and thus was presented with the "Female Driver of the Year" award at the Top50 Magyar Formula Awards ceremony in Budapest, Hungary.
More prizes celebrating regional achievements included the Massey University Harbour Sport Excellence Award, where 2020 W-Series selection qualifier Chelsea Herbert won the accolade for New Zealand "Regional Sportswoman of the Year".
After her 2018 success as Young Sports Personality of the Year, 16-year old Emily Linscott confirmed herself as one of the most acknowledged sport personalities in Essex, UK, as the young driver coached by racing star Pippa Mann was voted "Sports Person of the Year" by British digital TV channel Essex TV.
The Swedish municipality of Boden also decided to award its local talents: TCR upcoming star Jessica Bäckman received the "Winning Mentality Award" after a very successful season in TCR Europe, also combined with appearances in the German and Scandinavian TCR championships.
Saudi driver Reema Juffali performed well and proved impressive learning abilities in her first British Formula 4 campaign, concluding with ten top-10 results. She was assigned the "Driver's Choice Award" of the championship, while Brazilian Bia Figueiredo (together with former Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello) was the Fan-Favourite at the Stock Car Brasil end of the season party, as she received the prize as "Maiores eleitos do Fan Push".
Proof of the ever-growing attention to female racers' achievements, we hope that 2020 will feature even more women starring at the top of the standings and making more headlines in the international motor racing community.
To all of them, our very best wishes for a successful 2020.
Cover Ph credits: W-Series Media