Jamie Chadwick hails “huge” impact of W Series as hopes of return fade
Triple series champ praises W Series’ legacy, despite prize money issues throwing her 2023 plans into doubt
Jamie Chadwick says W Series “did a huge thing for women” in motorsport and will be missed if it doesn’t return, as sadly looks increasingly likely.
Back in June the administrators for W Series said they would announce “the start of a formal sale process” for the business, but since then there’s been no news of progress.
The company’s accounts to the end of 2021 showed net liabilities of £7,572,802, and its overall debt is thought to be far higher than that after further investment failed to turn the situation around.
TopGear.com has also heard of suppliers not being paid for work as early as spring 2022, several months before W Series’ financial problems first became public knowledge when last season’s calendar was brought to an end three races early.
“The impact it’s had on my career has been huge,” said Chadwick. “Really [it’s] the thing that’s made my career and given me the opportunity to be racing today.
“It gave a lot of visibility, put a lot of eyeballs on us. And I think that was an extremely positive thing going forwards. It’s great to see the likes of F1 Academy progressing in a really cool way.
“Obviously there’s a long road still ahead to try and make the sport as diverse as possible, but it’s fantastic that we are seeing a lot more initiatives now geared at women in the sport.”
Since claiming her third successive W Series title last season, the British driver has moved on to Indy NXT; the American single-seater series that’s given countless young drivers a pathway to IndyCar.
Last weekend Chadwick recorded her best finish to date - eighth place after starting seventeenth when qualifying was rained off in Nashville - having found the first half of the campaign “tough” while adapting to a new car and circuits she’d never raced on before.
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However, the 25-year-old is on a two-year programme that’ll keep her on the grid for 2024 as well, and she’s hopeful the opportunity will lead to bigger things.
Had things been different, she might not have got the chance. Chadwick is one of several drivers not to get her prize money from W Series for 2022: as champion she was due to receive $500,000 to put towards funding her racing career, on top of the $1 million she’d already earned for her two previous titles in 2019 and 2021.
Asked by TopGear.com if the missing prize money had affected her plans for 2023, Chadwick said: “Yeah, off the back of last year looking at this year, that was part of it. But I was lucky that, given the circumstances, I received support from DHL and Williams. I’ve got great partners involved with helping me go racing this year. It’s not been easy for any driver to try and find any opportunity.”
Chadwick hopes that W Series’ suppliers and her fellow drivers will get what they’re owed through the administration process, although she’s pragmatic about her own circumstances because the series was “effectively free” to enter. “Whilst it’s nice to have the prize money, if you look at most other championships, no others are in that position.”
And echoing what compatriot Alice Powell told TG back in June, Chadwick believes W Series was very successful at showing young girls that they could dream of being drivers and having careers in motorsport.
“It’s only upon reflection that I feel like I’ve noticed that to a greater degree,” says Chadwick. “Being at the track a lot, young girls would come up to the W Series area and were genuinely inspired by what W Series was able to do.
“That definitely hit home that there was a greater meaning behind it, and that there was success within the championship. It didn’t fail. Whilst it didn’t last as long as we would’ve liked, it definitely didn’t fail.”