2019 was the best year of her career. Jamie Chadwick gets ready for her first race of 2020, as the inaugural W-Series champion heads to the Asian F3 round in Dubai. She talked us through her next plans, her first year as part of a F1 team and the state of junior formulae.
She is the driver of the moment and was the star of 2019. An outstanding season crowned by two titles - the only junior driver to do so in the past 12 months.
Jamie Chadwick heads to Dubai to kick off her 2020 racing season, aware that the tough part has just begun: she will have to keep momentum and endure the pressure into a sophomore W-Series campaign, as well as bring the superlicence points pursuit to new territories and championships.
With this in mind, the 21-year old from Bath, UK, gets ready for the second round of the Asian Formula 3 championship next weekend in Dubai, after a mixed weekend in Sepang.
"Happy to get a good few points under our belt, but there's also far more on the table" - Chadwick told us after the first round in Malaysia.
Even though Jamie's stunning results quickly led her to a Williams F1 Team development driver contract, fundamental part of her next steps will be not to rush plans: being elected as "Sportswoman of the Year" and "Driver of the Year" inevitably brought everyone's mind to future F1 racing scenarios. But both Jamie and her smart management seem to understand that her potential is simply too big to be wasted for the sake of headlines.
Jamie Chadwick is indeed one of the most promising female prospects of the last 10 years and, in order to succeed, she will have to tackle the next challenges with a "big picture" vision.
Racing for Chinese-based squad Absolute Racing, Jamie Chadwick currently sits 10th in the Asian F3 standings and will now try to make the most out of the winter series that last year proved to be good training ground for both Miki Koyama and Vivien Keszthelyi prior to their W-Series debut.
We had the chance to speak with Jamie at the first championship round in Sepang, as she talked us through her 2020 plans, her first year as part of a Formula 1 team operation and the state of junior formulae.
I'm in a much better position than I was off the back of the support of the W-Series.
RACERS: What are the differences in the driving style from the Asian F3 car and the W-Series car? The cars are indeed the same but the series feature different tyre manufacturers - Miki Koyama last year told us they felt like two different cars altogether.
JAMIE: Yes, although it is the same car, it feels quite different. Obviously different teams work on the car very differently. So yeah, it's quite different to the way the W-Series cars are set-up and then they've got different tyres, which makes a big difference.
With the temperatures out here, the engine maps are quite different as well. It's obviously the same chassis, but there are distinctions. But it's good to be able to take what I've learnt from the W-Series into this and build on that.
R: How was your 2019 at Williams? After your first year as a F1 team associated driver, what do you think you learnt the most?
J: Well, it was awesome. I absolutely loved it, it was an amazing experience being part of a F1 team, to be able to fully immerse myself in the factory work and also the race weekends were very cool.
R: It would be interesting to understand your opinion on the state of junior formulae: we all know that you targeted the FIA Formula 3 but could not put together the budget, and that's sad considering the very good W-Series prize money.
J: Yeah, there's a little bit of that. I mean, with the way the W-Series was this year, there were not many races, so I did feel like I wanted to be fully prepared for F3 when you go into it.
So the plan this year is to take the time to do the development we need to do, obviously use the W-Series, the prize available and the superlicence points available, but also we'll try to combine it with other campaigns. We're doing Asian F3 this winter but also maybe it would be good to do a championship alongside W-Series during the year to give myself the best opportunity when I do step up, whether it be FIA F3 or F2.
R: Drivers making it to the top are increasingly coming exclusively from billionaire families - nothing against them, but what is your standpoint on this?
J: I mean, It's the way the sport is. It makes it difficult and you can see it, there are a few examples here as well. It's not ideal, it's hard to progress in the sport without money, but definitely I'm in a much better position than I was off the back of the support of the W-Series. Hopefully we can change it, as it's not ideal.
R: Speaking of change, how, theorethically, should the sport fundamentally change in order to facilitate the access on merit? It'd be interesting to know if you have some "out-of-the-box" ideas.
J: Oh gosh. It'd be difficult to do that. I think the sport relies on money and financial backing from all drivers to progress. It's not easy to do it without that. But I think top teams, F1 teams need to accept to take chances on young drivers, like Williams did with me, and give us the opportunity to progress. That's the best way to allow us to get to the top.
The plan this year is to take the time to do the development we need to do.
Asian F3 coverage was made possible thanks to the cooperation with Sarah Sahadin. Follow Sarah on her facebook page!