W Series: Jamie Chadwick back on top in Austrian Practice
W Series reigning champion Jamie Chadwick and 2019 runner-up Beitske Visser are back at the top of the timing screens after the practice session at Red Bull Ring, separated by Irina Sidorkova who made an impressive leap forward after last week and was second fastest.
Just six days after the action-packed curtain-raiser at the Red Bull Ring, W Series' drivers hit the track at the same venue for the first back-to-back weekend in its history.
And it was almost surprising to see how things have changed in such a short amount of time, with drivers making big improvements from the Styrian round.
2019 reigning champion Jamie Chadwick was back on top of the timing screens with a Jamie Chadwick-like performance: the Briton led most of the session and was the only driver able to put over two tenths between her and her closest pursuer, in an otherwise very tight field once again. Her 1:28.728 was the only laptime below the 1:29 mark, 0.236 seconds faster than last week's pole position.
One week ago, Chadwick had her qualifying hampered by a cracked pipe which cost her a starting position higher than eighth.
“I’m really excited for another bite of the cherry this weekend!" - she commented before the opening session of the weekend. "All being well with the car, and barring any incidents with anyone else, I think we have the pace to run at the front of the pack and I’m eager to show that this weekend".
Also her main title challenger from the inaugural W Series season was back to top form and steadily occupied the top spheres of the leaderboard: Beitske Visser was third fastest, almost half a second adrift Veloce Racing's Chadwick.
But the real revelation of the session was Irina Sidorkova, who finished second with a 1:29.062 lap and with the fastest first sector.
Sidorkova - the youngest driver on the field having just turned 18 last Sunday - has been recently confirmed as part of the W Series Academy, which grants her and Nerea Marti a seat for 2 years in the series.
The rookies continued to perform well, with Nerea Marti also having a great session in fifth, having spent most of the first half of FP1 in the top-4 together with Ayla Agren, who ultimately was seventh at the chequered flag.
Marta Garcia had a very unlucky first race and was the first retirement of the season due to a technical issue, but with her 4th place ahead of qualifying, she is looking like another strong contender for the top rows of the grid.
Emma Kimilainen was sixth fastest - after many of her best times were deleted for track limits when she was in second place. In a similar situation, Fabienne Wohlwend spent the first 15 minutes within the top three and was one of the few drivers to improve in the closing stages, but two track limits violations eventually cancelled her best laps and finished in P13.
The top rookie of the Styrian race, Belen Garcia, was eighth and preceded last week's dominant winner Alice Powell. The current championship leader struggled to reach the top and was ninth, 0.940 seconds behind Chadwick.
Powell was wide into Turn 3 and almost made contact with fellow podium finisher Sarah Moore.
Abbie Eaton spent the opening minutes in the pitlane but then found enough speed to put her #44 Tatuus F3 in 10th place. Jessica Hawkins was P11, also ahead of Chadwick's teammate Bruna Tomaselli - the latter saving her car from an understeering moment in the gravel in the final minutes.
Vicky Piria spent some time in the pitlane likely due to some issues, before completing a 1:29.903 lap on her very final attempt to finish P14. The Italian led Sirin Racing's teammate Miki Koyama, Gosia Rdest, Sarah Moore - who had claimed her first podium last weekend - and Sabré Cook.