By the point you learn this, Jamie Chadwick could have already got one foot on the opposite facet of the Pond. The 2-time W Collection champion took half in an Indy Lights take a look at with Andretti Autosport at Sebring, Florida, on Wednesday and, relying on the way it went, she could already be dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, making ready to set sail for the New World.
Whereas clearly being a unbelievable alternative for Chadwick – racing in the principle help sequence to IndyCar, and for an enormous staff reminiscent of Andretti – it could in some ways be a disgrace.
Chadwick’s acknowledged objective is to drive in System One. W Collection’s acknowledged objective is to assist a feminine driver to achieve System One for the primary time since 1976. She is clearly the perfect driver in W Collection. But regardless of successive titles, regardless of greater than double the variety of factors of her nearest rival on this yr’s standings, groups in F3 and F2 don’t look like beating a path to her door.
It raises numerous troubling questions, each for Chadwick and for W Collection.
Is the all-female system match for goal? Is the usual throughout the board seen as so low by F3 and F2 groups that they don’t seem to be prepared to take an opportunity on its champion, regardless of the assured PR enhance Chadwick’s presence would deliver? Did Chadwick’s lacklustre yr racing for Prema within the System Regional European Championship in 2020 – when W Collection took a hiatus on account of Covid – scare off potential suitors?
Is Chadwick being too choosy? She claimed at first of the yr that she had choices for this yr in F3, however a scarcity of obtainable “aggressive seats” meant she finally determined her best choice was to stay in W Collection.
The 24-year-old says she “understands” the reluctance of F3 groups to take of venture on W Collection drivers, particularly given the dearth of testing days and the truth that they’d be stepping right into a system with no energy steering. “Male or feminine, these groups simply wish to win,” she says.
Which isn’t to say she doesn’t consider a lady is able to success in these sequence. Chadwick notes the F3 take a look at given to Abbi Pulling, Hamda Al Qubaisi, Chloe Chambers and Nerea Marti at Magny Cours final week.
“I haven’t spoken to them about it but,” she says. “However I hear they went OK. I’m actually intrigued to listen to what they must say as a result of I’ve not pushed that automobile myself. And that’s what it’s all about. Getting that have; understanding what you might want to do to progress. That’s what makes this subsequent step from W Collection the toughest, I assume.”
Has she obtained any take a look at days lined up in F3 or F2 then? As a result of time is quick working out to organise them. “The F3 alternative I haven’t had simply but, however there’s a little bit of curiosity in possibly doing an F2 take a look at,” Chadwick replies. “However it isn’t for a number of months. It’s in November. So we’re pushing arduous for that. However like I mentioned, I wish to have choices. I do know F2 is an enormous bounce [in one go]. So it is likely to be taking a look at combining programmes. To not see it as ‘OK, I’m going to America and that’s it’, however retaining doorways open.”
‘I see lots of people saying I needs to be in F1 subsequent yr. And I actually shouldn’t’
Studying between the strains, she would possibly take up the choice from Indy Lights after which attempt to line up a seat in F2 for 2024? “Maybe,” she says. “However I feel from my facet, the very fact this chance has come to us they usually’ve proven an curiosity … to have the chance to exit and see what it’s all about, is so beneficial.”
Having a seat lined up for 2024 if she does transfer Stateside will surely be wise. As IndyCar star Colton Herta came upon not too long ago, Indy is just not an incredible pathway to F1 because it doesn’t yield the requisite FIA Tremendous Licence factors. Chadwick thinks that system “ought to doubtlessly be checked out” given the burgeoning curiosity in F1 from the US. However she accepts that, because it stands, she goes to must do F2 in some unspecified time in the future if she needs to achieve F1.
No matter she decides, there will likely be enormous curiosity in her subsequent transfer. A lot of W Collection’s credibility is tied to her fortunes. The system is going through its personal difficulties with perennial funding points and questions on its viability. Does it have a future?
“I can’t see how anybody can criticise W Collection,” Chadwick argues. “It’s given us all this huge platform. Sure, lots of people couldn’t care much less what I do in my profession and I get that. However what’s wonderful is the quantity of individuals that basically do care. I see lots of people saying I needs to be in F1 subsequent yr. And I actually shouldn’t! I’m nowhere close to that degree. However the reality W Collection has created this notion and, I assume, fanbase, is wonderful.
“OK, doubtlessly W Collection has a technique to go by way of getting the following girl to F1. However they by no means mentioned that was going to be the objective inside three years.”
What concerning the subsequent 5? Stefano Domenicali, the F1 CEO, mentioned not too long ago he doubted a lady might do it in that time-frame. Chadwick smiles.
“Yeah completely. F1 stays the final word objective, however I additionally wish to have a profession within the sport,” she says. “And also you’ve obtained to weigh up the perfect choices to have that. Not simply put the whole lot on the road, financially and performance-wise, the place you give your self one yr after which that’s type of your solely alternative.
“Engaged on the idea that in some unspecified time in the future I should undergo F2 … I’ve to work backwards from that. So it’s about exploring the choices. Whether or not to do F3 or whether or not to do Indy Lights for a yr. With Indy Lights, the seat time seems to be to be vital, significantly in comparison with F3, the finances appears believable with a prime staff in Andretti. Whereas, in the intervening time, these alternatives don’t appear to be fairly there in F3 … however I’m retaining all choices open.”