W Series: Alice Powell edges Jamie Chadwick in Silverstone FP1
After the opening W Series practice session at Silverstone, Alice Powell is back to top form – with Jamie Chadwick right on her tail. But Emma Kimilainen, Sarah Moore and Fabienne Wohlwend all showed potential to fight for the leading positions.
She utterly dominated the season opener, only to struggle with technical issues into the second race at the Red Bull Ring one week later; now, Alice Powell is back on top of the time sheets after the W Series practice session at Silverstone, home round for the 28 year old racer that is now sporting a new British-green helmet designed for the special occasion.
Reigning champion and points leader Jamie Chadwick led the pace in the early stages, but Powell's 1:57.098 would remain unbeaten throughout the final 10 minutes of the session.
In the first minutes, drivers had to deal with tricky grip conditions due to the track being inundated by the dust laid down in an earlier session. Soon, Veloce Racing's Jamie Chadwick, Alice Powell and Sarah Moore – three of the six British drivers on the grid this weekend - traded the top of the leaderboard. Fabienne Wohlwend and Emma Kimilainen would also add their names to the list of the likely front-runners this weekend.
10 minutes into the session, Bruna Tomaselli (Veloce Racing) spun into the grass at Becketts, but rejoined and pitted.
Wohlwend (Bunker Racing) went on top with the fastest first sector overall, but Chadwick responded back and improved by a massive 0.760 second.
Powell set the purple second sector and improved mid-way through the session, then held position until the chequered flag, while the second place exchanged hands as Chadwick, Moore and Kimilainen all closed in on Powell's benchmark lap.
"Good first practice session here at Silverstone, there's definitely some time in it and I didn't put my sectors together by a long way." – commented Powell.
"There's some work to do with the car setup-wise, so a few things to do before qualifying later on today and the track is going to be quite different but I'm looking forward to getting out there. It's so nice to see so many amazing fans in the stands as well, so I'm looking forward to later on", she added.
It would be Austrian GP winner Jamie Chadwick to grab second at the very final attempt from Emma Kimilainen, as the top three were separated by a little less than three tenths.
Sarah Moore – currently second in the championship standings after scoring her first podium at the curtain raiser and another solid fourth place at the second round - was fourth, ahead of Fabienne Wohlwend in fifth.
Wohlwend had a lap deleted by track limits and found traffic on her way, but the driver from Liechtenstein is looking strong again at Silverstone.
Beitske Visser was sixth fastest, six tenths adrift pace-setter Alice Powell and only one thousandth of a second behind Wohlwend; the Ducthwoman has prioritized her W Series commitments and is missing the 6 Hours of Monza, third round of the World Endurance Championship this weekend.
Abbie Eaton and Abbi Pulling were P7 and P8 - making it five Brits in the top-10 at their home round. Pulling, a front-runner in the British Formula 4 championship, is making her W Series debut this weekend in the second Puma car, stepping in for Tasmin Pepper. The South African is in fact still unable to travel to the races so far, and her seat was filled by reserve driver Gosia Rdest in the two opening rounds.
18-year old Pulling had a remarkable first session in the all-female series and was in the top ten for the whole 30-minute duration. She preceded another rookie, Ayla Agren, and Vicky Piria – the Italian finding good speed at her final attempt to break into the top ten.
Marta Garcia was P11 and Bruna Tomaselli 12th, as the Brazilian struggled a bit more compared to the Austrian double-header. Similarly, the two W Series Academy drivers Nerea Marti and Irina Sidorkova were P14 and P18 respectively, after battling for the podium positions at the shorter Red Bull Ring.
Belen Garcia improved at the end to move up into P16, leaving Sabré Cook and Irina Sidorkova at the bottom of the timing screen. Cook was steadily in the midfield but couldn't improve when the chequered flag fell.
Due to Formula 1's experimental sprint race making its debut at Silverstone this weekend, the schedule has been reshuffled and will see W Series hitting the track again for the qualifying session at 15:55 local (16:55 CEST).