W Series, Round 3 - Drivers' reactions
The third round of the season provided a returning winner and a new fight at the top: Alice Powell stormed to home victory, but a remarkable Fabienne Wohlwend was up for the challenge. Here are all the drivers' reactions after the dramatic British GP.
The innovative F3 championship for women only W Series moved to home soil for the third 2021 event after the previous double header at Spielberg, Austria. A new duel for the victory has definitively found its place in the W Series history books: Alice Powell vs Fabienne Wohlwend.
The two drivers put on a show at Silverstone, but it was the Brit to ultimate bring home the prestigious victory at the home of British motorsport following an opportunistic pass on Wohlwend. The Liechtenstein's native that was the protagonist of a seriously impressive start and led most of the race, until a mistake with five minutes to go when her tyres were starting to let go.
Alice Powell clinched her second victory of the 2021 season after the season opener and re-claimed the championship lead with a six-point advantage from reigning champion Jamie Chadwick – completing another perfect weekend by topping all the sessions.
"It’s an amazing feeling to win on home soil." – said Alice after the race, highlighting the return of the fans on the stands. "I’ve experienced lots of British Grand Prix weekends but never from this side and I want to thank every single fan out there for the amazing support."
"To race and win in front of this crowd is the stuff that dreams are made of and it was extra special to have my family here to see it. It wasn’t the best of starts for me, I got a bad launch and was behind Fabienne. But I knew I had the pace and was faster, and luckily she made an error which let me sneak through and I managed to bring it home from there.”
Fabienne Wohlwend confirmed her strong start to the 2021 season and secured her second podium finish out of three races – the Silverstone runner-up spot being her best career result in W Series.
Only a little mistake at Club corner with five minutes to go cost the Bunker Racing driver her maiden victory, after a remarkable weekend where she was able to challenge Powell also for pole position in a very fought qualifying on Friday.
"It’s hard to lose a race like that, but I’m still happy." – commented Fabienne.
"I got a mega start and it was so much fun to be up there battling with Alice . She kept the pressure on, and after the safety car went in I just missed the corner and lost a front wheel on the outside."
"Alice was super quick and it was a great drive from her. The season isn’t over and my win will come. It feels amazing to be back racing in front of this crowd, and I can’t wait for the rest of the season now.”
It was a not the usual commanding weekend for reigning champion Jamie Chadwick, who didn't find the pace to bring her Veloce Racing car up into the battle for victory; nevertheless, Jamie finished third and added another podium trophy to her impressive W Series resumé.
She has now dropped to second in the championship standings behind Alice Powell – in a duel that has the potential to go down the wire coming into the final rounds of the season.
"It was a bit of a quiet race for me in third." – said Jamie. "I didn’t have the pace to challenge the girls at the front who were both super fast. I’m happy to be on the podium, even though I would have loved to have won at home. But I’m just speechless looking at this crowd and the support for us, I’ve never seen anything like this.
Chadwick feels that the grid is much more competitive in 2021, but on a good day, she has already proved to be hard to beat.
"The grid is very competitive this year and it’s really tough to win, but points make prizes. I would have loved the big points today, but we’ll keep chipping away in pursuit of the ultimate prize which is the championship.”
Finnish ace Emma Kimilainen had another solid weekend at Silverstone: she remained just around the podium positions throughout and finished fourth – moving up one place from her starting position. After a mixed double-header at Red Bull Ring, Kimilainen bagged a decent amount of important points which put the Finn right among the top contenders.
"Solid P4 finish today at W Series Round 3 at Silverstone." – she wrote. "Didn't have the pace for podium today but we made good process as a team and got more information about the car and made a good improvement after qualifying. Important points for the championship battle so I'm pretty satisfied."
Coming from an equally positive debut in Austria, Nerea Marti made another step forward in Britain and scored her first top-5 at just her third W Series race of her rookie season.
"P5 at Silverstone! We are back home with good feeling this weekend.", said Nerea.
Silverstone was a very difficult and unknown circuit and we have been improving with each season" - wrote Marti on her social media feeds.
2019 runner-up Beitske Visser scored her first points of the season by finishing sixth in what became a uphill race at the start: after a bad getaway from the second row, Visser had to fight her way up, after battling technical issues on Friday that left her mechanics with the task to change the engine right before the start of the race. These problems might also be at the heart of her slow start off the line on Saturday.
The Dutch racer won a beautiful fight against Sarah Moore for P6 – in what was an intense side-by-side duel for over a lap before Visser's decisive move.
"P6, maximum we could do today." – she wrote. "New engine and clutch didn't help on the start but at least the pace was good and the issues was finally solved. Had a good battle with Sarah Moore".
Sarah Moore was once again one of the most consistent drivers on grid so far – a quality that might pay big dividends for the Brit in such a short calendar.
"Not quite the weekend I would have liked, bit still points towards the championship.
So good to have the home crowd after the ups & down of the past 16 months"
"Now to work on getting myself back fighting at the top for the next round at Hungaroring"
"Winners never quit and quitters never win" – concluded Sarah, quoting Vince Lombardi.
Abbi Pulling got behind the wheel of the Puma Motorsport car and was this round's reserve driver: She made her W Series debut at her home Gran Prix and immediately proved her skills. It is no secret that Pulling can be one of the top future stars of the series, and started off with a top ten, coming home in eighth.
This result is the best achieved so far by the Puma Motorsport team, which featured in the previous rounds Gosia Rdest as Marta Garcia's teammate.
It was a convincing home round also for Abbie Eaton, who started from P12 and won a great battle for the top-ten with Belén Garcia. Eaton – at her first season in formula cars – improved massively weekend after weekend and is likely to become a steady top-five presence. This is why she was left disappointed by her British GP performance.
"Not going to lie, extremely disappointed with the result but it was fantastic to see so many supporters in attendance." – she stressed. "Managed to put in a couple of good overtakes but will keep pushing to understand and learn more."
After a difficult second round, Spanish rookie Bélen Garcia once again had to battle with technical issues on her Scuderia W #22 car, but ad made it into the points-paying positions before a late incident on the final lap, when Jessica Hawkins spun her around, damaging her left-rear suspension.
"It was quite a difficult race. I started quite well, despite the fact that every time I changed gears I lost a lot of time and could not follow the rivals even with the slipstream." – explained Bélen.
"I have tried to throw a lot in the curves to create distance so that they could not catch me at the end of the straights. That meant taking risks, I made a mistake and Eaton happened to me. I have endured, but I have not been able to do more ”, she said, visibly disappointed.
"In the last corners of the race they hit me from behind and I couldn't continue. It's a shame because I would have scored a point that I have fought a lot throughout the race. It was super difficult to hold on there, but that's the way racing is."
"I want to compete in normal conditions because the last test was also to minimize damage, due to the problems I had with the car.", she continued. "I feel strong, but I have not been able to fight the last two weekends because of the car and because of the touch they gave me today. I hope to get rid of these feelings and show where I am, because this is not my position".
The always combative Jessica Hawkins had to come to terms with a cracked turbo pipe on Friday, but despite the adversities she managed to qualify in tenth position. The Racing X's driver took the chequered flag in tenth, but following her incident with Bélen Garcia she was handed a 20-second time penalty that put the Aston Martin F1 Team Abbassador in P16.
With a solid drive and by putting all her experience in the battles on the table, Vicky Piria scored her first point of the season with a valuable tenth place after Hawkins' penalty.
The Italian driver showed good speed since Friday practice and made a further step in qualifying, where she had her best lap deleted for track limits. Nevertheless, Piria was just outside the top-10 and continued the progression into the race, where she battled with Jessica Hawkins and Bruna Tomaselli.
"P10 in the British GP - pace is good, little things to fix and we are there." - commented Vicky. It was amazing to see so many people cheering and supporting us. Silverstone you got the love." - she added.
Coming from a notable top 5 at Red Bull Ring, Bruna Tomaselli wasn't able to repeat herself on British soil and ended in eleventh place, still recovering several positions from her race start in 15th on the grid. The only South American on the field was happy to be racing on one of the most iconic circuits in the world: "Being at Silverstone is a dream. It will be my first time on the track that is considered the backyard of many teams. It is a legendary circuit, full of details", said the Brazilian before the race, but was then left disappointed not to add more points to her tally.
"It was a race with little overtaking possibilities in general." - she said. "The Safety-Car entry moved a little, but I had to worry more about not losing my position than being able to climb, as I was attacked by Marta "
Silverstone was another challenging round for Marta Garcia: the Spaniard tried to find her way back to the positions where she proved to belong in 2019, but a series of misfortunate events have so far prevented her to score points. Her victory at Norisring in 2019 remains one of the highlights of the W Series inaugural season, and surely the Puma Motorsport driver will work hard to be back fighting at the front at the coming rounds.
"Need to analyse the weekend and take the good from bad." - wrote Marta Garcia with an Instagram post.
Sabré Cook has been struggling in qualifying and had to approach the third race of the season once again in full-attack mode after starting from the back of the pack. The American is a great overtaker and, just like in the second Austrian race, was on the move in the opening stages. She would finish P13, recovering five places.
Cook will surely focus on her qualifying pace, because in race pace she has what it takes to score points consistently.
"Moved forward in the race yesterday but unfortunately at Silverstone it becomes a bit follow-the-leader." - explained the Bunker Racing driver.
"P13 for the race in the end. Obviously not satisfied with the result, but race pace is always good. I’m very conscious of the areas that need improving and I’m working hard toward the next race in Budapest to increase performance."
Very different feelings for Irina Sidorkova after the superb Round 2, where she finished for the first time on the podium. Sidorkova is the youngest driver on the grid and a learning-oriented season means polishing her skills on tracks with different features from what she is used to. While she simply didn't have the same pace at Silverstone, Sidorkova is one of the most exciting up-and-coming talents on the field and will make the most out of this experience.
"I am only 18 years old, but I have come a long and very difficult path in motorsport." - explained the Russian. "I do not live with illusions and I am very realistic to evaluate my driving skills. In my heart I hoped that I could show a better result, but in my head there was an understanding that it is impossible to learn how to swim quickly or do mountain-skiing only with a simulator. You can learn any new thing only through the experience that you get and feel with your own body."
"But I have no experience of driving on tracks with dominant fast corners. I know and understand this fact like no one else, because in my sports career there were none of those tracks. Even in Austria, where I was fast, the most problematic for me was the second sector with its two high-speed corners.", she added.
"My racing career was on different type of tracks - for me, the more the track is tucked and turns are curved, the less grip, the easier it is for me. Therefore, I have to learn from sight. Unfortunately, in open-wheels I always have to learn during races, not tests. Racing at Silverstone was a dream I couldn't even think of as a child. Was I slow? Yes, I failed to find speed, but I gained knowledge, and now it is much more important for me, because I have become a little more experienced, and therefore stronger."
We haven't seen the real potential of Ayla Agren in the races, as the Norwegian had for the third time in a row a problem at the start which dropped her down the order, while Miki Koyama had to retire after a really troubled weekend for tecnichal issues that really are compromising the Japanese's first half of the season.
"Troubles continued from practice to the race." - she summed up.
"In practice, there was a problem in downshifting and I was able to run, but most of the time the gear did not engage and I had the gearbox replaced after the session. In qualifying, I had a problem in upshifting and there was a significant loss of time on the data."
"So we changed again before the race, but after finishing the formation lap, I got on the grid and I could not move forward. I was able to start once in reverse and upshifting many times, but the downshift didn't work again while I was running." - Koyama explained.
"As I got used to the circuit and was getting to know it, I was making up time. I'm confident that I will continue to improve, considering the gearbox issues, I think I had the potential to compete with the top. I wanted to push myself to the limit until the end."
"But Silverstone was Amazing! I wanted to drive few more laps if I could." - concluded Koyama.
The fourth W Series round will be contested at the Hungarian GP in two week's time.