2019 has been a successful year for Jamie Chadwick but she is already looking to the future – one which has an end goal of becoming the next woman to race in Formula 1.
Hailing from England, Chadwick has had a whirlwind past 12 months which saw her sign on with F1 team ROKiT Williams Racing as a development driver in May, before being crowned the inaugural winner of the W Series – an all-female championship designed as a pathway to help women progress to the highest levels of motorsport – three months after.
While women have raced in F1 previously, it has been 27 years since one has entered a Grand Prix while the last to actually start a race was Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.
The landscape is however slowly but surely changing and recent years have seen several females signed on by a handful of F1 teams as development and test drivers, a group which Chadwick now belongs to.
“For me, [the target] is just to be continuing to make the progress we’re making,” she told FOX Sports Asia in a one-on-one interview.
“Obviously, we had a really great 2019 so next year I want to be racing at the front in whatever I’m doing.
“[Another season in] W Series looks like it’s going to be the case again and, ultimately, the end goal is Formula 1… how ever I can make that happen has to be the end point.”
The 21-year-old was speaking to FOX Sports Asia in the United Arab Emirates last week in the build-up to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where she also graced the Acronis #CyberFit Summit as part of a panel involving “Women in Tech”.
An initiative by Acronis, who offer cyber protection services and partner with several prominent sports teams around the world, the “Women in Tech” panel also featured the likes of Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams, ROKiT Venturi Racing team principal Susie Wolff, and Aseel Al-Hamad – the first female board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation.
“It’s obviously incredible to be here in Abu Dhabi,” added Chadwick. “I can’t believe it’s the last race of the season in F1 but for me to be here representing Williams and women in motorsports is incredible.
“For Acronis to host the event is great too.
“I think it’s an exciting time more than anything else. It just feels like the right time for all this to be happening – it’s a huge movement.
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“We just have to look at women’s sport to just see how times are changing and motorsports is just the same as well. It’s incredibly exciting.
“I guess I go racing for my own reasons but it’s nice to be part of this movement as well.”
The Williams team have led the way when it comes to helping females break into what has long been perceived as a male-dominated industry and not just on the track, with 14.8 per cent of their total workforce comprising of women.
— FOX Sports Asia (@FOXSportsAsia) November 29, 2019
There was also a lighthearted moment when Claire Williams was asked if the team’s history makes them the likeliest candidates to next field a female driver, which immediately invoked a playful, questioning look from Chadwick from two seats away.
While there is still work to be done before Chadwick realises her goal of lining up on the starting grid of a F1 Grand Prix, she has already gone some way to reinforcing the notion that women do belong in motorsport.
And when asked what she would say to young girls looking up to her and dreaming of following in her footsteps?
“My advice would be just to stick at it,” she explained.
“I got into the sport completely by accident, I didn’t really know much about it but I think that was a blessing in a way because I had no idea how male-dominated it was and actually I’ve had such a positive experience in the sport.
— Absolute Racing (@absolute_racing) December 2, 2019
“I think [females] are daunted to get into it because they see it as being such a male-dominated world but actually we’re desperate for a woman to succeed.
“There’s some great initiatives like this one where we’re trying to get women supported. Obviously I’ve looked up to Claire for a long time but to be on the same panel with her and everyone else is incredible.
“It definitely shows the movement that’s happening at the moment and how far we’ve come.
“And yeah, I would say [to aspiring female racers] just keep at it.”
Apart from next year’s W Series, it was confirmed on Tuesday that Chadwick will also be competing for Absolute Racing in the 2019/20 F3 Asian Championship, an FIA-sanctioned regional championship that gets underway in Sepang, Malaysia on December 14.