- Jamie Chadwick is the most-hyped female racing driver in decades and could become the first female F1 driver in 45 years.
- She spoke to Insider about how she deals with the pressure of expectation and her hopes for the future.
- Chadwick also said she would love to have Lewis Hamilton as a teammate.
It has been 45 years since the last female driver competed in a Formula One race, but if Jamie Chadwick gets her wish, that stretch will not go on for much longer.
The 23-year-old Brit is a rising star not only in women’s motorsport but the sport in general. She has been touted as the most likely candidate to succeed Lella Lombardi, the last women to race in F1 in 1976.
Chadwick has just come off winning her second W Series crown, maintaining her 100% record in the competition so far, and is a development driver for the F1 team Williams.
As possibly the most-hyped female race driver in decades, Chadwick is hot property.
She spoke to Insider about why Lewis Hamilton would be her dream teammate, and how she believes F1 has now become a realistic goal.
Alongside the speed, adrenaline and thrill of it, teamwork was what attracted Chadwick to the sport
Like all racing drivers, Chadwick’s first taste of the sport came in the seat of a go-kart. She started racing at 11 and said straight away she saw it was a sport that had so much to it.
“So many different things appealed,” she told Insider.
“Obviously there was the sporting element. I come from doing different sports so straight away I felt at home with that but also the speed, the adrenaline, the thrill of that.
“Alongside the fact that it’s also a massive team sport which I think people don’t realize as well. There were so many different factors initially that struck my interest.”
After initial apprehension she felt joining the only women’s championship was a ‘no-brainer’
Since those early days, Chadwick has raced in eight different series, most recently winning her second W Series crown where she is the undisputed champion.
The W Series, which is a female-only competition, has been running for two seasons and both times, it has been Chadwick’s name on the championship trophy.
But she was not fully convinced that the W Series was the place for her when she first heard of the proposals.
“Initially it wasn’t a dead cert that I was going to get involved in the series,” she said.
“I heard it was announced and on the face of it being an all female series it wasn’t necessarily something I felt the need to do.
“I was racing against men equally and happy doing that so when it first came about I had my doubts but it was explained to me further and I realized that it’s a fully funded series. In the first season we swapped cars each weekend, we shared everything.
“There’s prize money and we’re supported to try and elevate our opportunities in the sport. It felt like a no-brainer to commit to it and try my luck at winning it.”
Her luck came in and this season she secured the title by beating fellow Brit Alice Powell by 27 points.
‘We need to create more opportunities to get women in the sport’
While most sports have seen female participation trend upwards in recent years, the number of women in motorsport has been on the decline. The W Series has the stated goal of boosting female participation, not only with drivers but mechanics and engineers.
Chadwick said the main thing was “understanding there aren’t enough women competing in the sport.”
“We need to create more opportunities to get women in the sport to try and even it out. What W Series is doing is giving women so much more exposure than they have before,” she said.
“[It’s] the opportunity for young girls to look at the W Series and look at the sport and see it as not just a male-dominated sport.
“It’s great that that’s what the series has been able to do and hopefully down the line that will help with a bigger shift with more women involved.”
Chadwick says F1 has now become a realistic goal
When she first started, Chadwick had no set goals but with experience behind her, she had the foresight to begin creating long-term goals.
“It was very much something I did for fun in the first few years and early stages so it wasn’t something I thought of in terms of planning ahead and thinking, ‘Okay I want to be doing this in five years’ time,'” she said.
“More recently, I try to make more long term goals and think of what the dream is and the ultimate goal.”
One of those goals is, understandably, Formula One. At one point that may simply have been a pipe dream, but with Chadwick signing up with the Williams F1 team as a development driver in 2020, her route to the peak of motorsport is now clearer.
“[F1 has only] become the goal more recently in the last few years,” she said. “Before that it was in the distance. It’s amazing that now I can see it as maybe a goal to have.”
With the expectation of making it as the first female F1 driver since Lombardi comes pressure, but Chadwick said she tries not to think of it too much.
“I think it’s pressure that I probably warrant myself but it’s something I try not to think too much about but at the same time it’s a goal I want to achieve so I’m happy to take that pressure.
“If it’s not me then I hope another girl will make it and carry that flag for me.”
“In my opinion, [Lewis Hamilton] is the greatest of all time”
If she does make it to F1, she says she would love to have Lewis Hamilton as her teammate.
“I wouldn’t say I’d beat him, but I’d love to go up against Lewis [Hamilton].
“He’s incredible and I think what he’s achieved in the sport is amazing.
“In my opinion, he’s the greatest of all time so to have that as a teammate would be pretty special.”