We spent some time with British racing star Jamie Chadwick throughout her 2020 Formula Regional European Championship campaign. Here's an end-of-the-season review we shot at the final round at Vallelunga, chatting about this challenging year, the W Series return to the racetracks and her new adventure in Extreme-E.
Back in the months when the world stood still and the W Series' second season was declared cancelled, we were almost certain that we would have not witnessed to any motor racing happening in 2020.
When the championships did indeed kick-off last Summer and the inaugural W Series champion and upcoming British racing star Jamie Chadwick signed with Prema - the Italian powerhouse and benchmark team in feeder series - in the Formula Regional European Championship, we knew we had to follow Jamie's adventure in the top continental F3 series.
Jamie came from an outstanding 2019 year, where she was the only international driver in single seaters to claim two titles (W Series and MRF Formula) and kept winning races in both formula and GT cars, as she added the prestigious 24 Hours of the Nürburgring to her resumé. The young Brit made further headlines when she signed a contract with Williams F1 in a Development Driver role and rose to global acclaim.
2020 started with the best possible premises for Chadwick, who clinched podium finishes and a race victory in the F3 Asian series, becoming the first woman to do so in a F3 Regional category. The 23-year old lady kept momentum and stepped on the podium in her very first Formula Regional race in Misano, but she then endured a more challenging season coming into the remaining rounds.
Still, Jamie Chadwick remains one of the brightest female talents worldwide and, despite a relatively short single-seater experience, she will make her return to the 2021 W Series sophomore season in the attempt to defend her crown.
We had the opportunity to spend some time throughout the entire 2020 Formula Regional European Championship campaign and - round after round, through her highs and lows - we got the exclusive chance to get to know her a bit better.
Here's an end-of-season video we filmed on the final day at Vallelunga: a brief chat about her challenging season, about the exciting return of W Series to the racetracks and her new adventure in the brand-new Extreme E championship.
We'd like to thank Jamie and Prema Powerteam for their availability all season long.
"I'd like to keep as much of a versatile career as possible, do as much of different stuff. Fortunately that seems to help me in whatever I go on to do."
RACERS: Could you please review your season in Formula Regional European Championship? I know it's been quite a challenging one, but there are certainly also positives to take away from it.
JAMIE: Yeah, obviously a challenging season on the face of it, but as you said there are lots of positives to take. I think, personally, being part of a team like Prema in a championship like this has been an incredible experience for me. They operate at such a high level and clearly dominating all the junior ranks, so to be a part of that has been really really cool and for sure I've learnt a huge amount with that.
From my side, on the results point of view, of course it has been really disappointing - more frustrating not to be able to maximise the opportunity I've had, but ultimately lots of lessons have been learnt. There are some positives and I hope this makes me a stronger driver going forwards.
R: You also raced on several new tracks that you had never visited before. Which one was your favourite this season?
J: Good question! It's interesting because [we went to] a lot of new tracks and probably my favourite has to be the one where I went the worst at - which is probably a bit weird - Mugello. Mugello and Imola, these two were the big stand-outs, we saw them on the F1 calendar this year and to race those for the first time was really cool.
R: Obviously W Series will race with F1 next year, what do you think about that?
J: Really exciting for W Series, I think it's a big step for them - a huge news in the sense that it's just going to go from strength to strength and continue to grow.
R: Do you think that it will be beneficial to the W Series drivers as well?
J: Yes, definitely. I mean, to be on that kind of platform and to get that kind of attention and exposure is a huge step. But also to be racing on those weekends, in front of the right people and at the circuits that, potentially, you know you'd want to go on and race at, with either F3 or F2 and ultimately Formula 1 - I think it's really important.
It's gonna be eight races, spread around the world, and that's quite exciting in that sense.
R: Of course the cars are the same one used in the Formula Regional, even though tyres are different. How do they compare and can you bring what you learnt this year into the next season?
J: Yeah, it's the same chassis and that will definitely help. It's been quite different this year - the adjustability you have within a team does make it quite different and, like you said, the tyres. But a lot of experience has been taken from a year like this year, so definitely it'll help me.
R: Of course you've also been announced as a driver in the new Extreme E championship, which is very exciting. Tell us a bit more about testing the new car and your feelings coming into the first round of the inaugural season.
J: The test was so exciting - honestly I don't think I've enjoyed an experience in a car that much for a very long time! It's a very exciting up-and-coming new championship, obviously the focus is on raising awareness on climate change but also gender equality - which are two things that I'm quite excited to be representing. And also, to be doing it with Veloce, as they manage me outside of the Extreme E car, [they're] a big team, so for them to build an Extreme E team and then for me to being able to get the seat for them is an amazing thing.
R: Of course it's quite a different experience from what you've been doing before. Was rallying something that ever crossed your mind before?
J: Not at all! I don't think that rallying was something I would have thought I'd go in the direction of, but actually I think there's a lot I can learn from it. The Extreme E car is interesting because it's just not only a rallying style that is required and it's quite a bit of a cross-over between circuit stuff, so hopefully I can bring a bit of experience from my side in that sense and I'll obviously learn a huge amount. The more I can do, the more I can prepare, I think the better.
R: I think it's interesting that in this new series there is quite a lot of differences in the announced drivers' backgrounds - from rallying, to rallycross and raid, but also circuit, like yourself. What drivers are you most interested in learning from and compete against?
J: Yeah, I think the thing is no one really knows what is gonna be! There's a lot of unexpected [factors]: the circuit we'll drive on - it has to be a circuit - has to be able to take how many cars are going to be on the grid; we have to be able to race each other, so it has to be quite wide and there won't be one obvious line like maybe some rally stages have. I think you can learn the circuit a bit, so from my side of things, it'll definitely suit me and maybe the rallycross drivers, because you can learn and take references - but at the same time it's going to be a loose material and the surface isn't going to be grippy, so the rally guys definitely are going to have a bit of an advantage there.
It's gonna be hard to predict who's going to have the biggest advantage. I think from my perspective, the rallycross guys will probably have most close experience, but there's no reason why we can't learn as much as possible and catch up with that.
R: Last year you also raced with Aston Martin in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. Is it something that you would like to do again in the future?
J: Yes, I really want to. That race is really close to my heart, I really enjoy that race a lot and obviously the relationship with Aston Martin has been ongoing from the past few years, so of course I would love to continue that and keep as much of a versatile career as possible, do as much of different stuff. Fortunately that seems to help me in whatever I go on to do.
R: One of the most interesting peculiarities from you last year was how quickly you adjusted from single-seaters and GT cars weekend after weekend. How do you prepare for such different driving styles?
J: It's obviously just different, it's just a learning thing for me. I think in this phase of my career - like I said before I'm not from a motor racing background, so in this stage of my career, which is relatively junior, the more I can do, the more I can learn in everything I do, the better.
In sports car, the whole thing is just go with a completely fresh mental approach, learning different skills there and than taking a few bits that I learn there into single-seaters and vice-versa. It's an important process for me and I think I'll continue that next year with the Extreme E stuff as well.
R: You obviously have ties with the Williams F1 Team. Did the new management change anything for you this year?
J: Not so much. I'm on a yearly contract but I hope to continue that onto next year. The relationship with them is really good and it's an amazing thing to be part of a Formula 1 team - and to be part of Williams as well is something that I'm really proud of and of course I want to continue next year.