Jamie Chadwick is accustomed to being touted as one of the female motorsport stars who could make it all the way to Formula 1 and now she is thriving on that expectation, writes Nicola Kenton.
The 21-year-old was crowned the inaugural W Series champion in 2019, an all-female single-seater championship that was created to help women progress to the top of motorsport.
Chadwick has begun accruing points for her super licence – the grade required to compete in F1 – with the W Series added to the list of qualifying categories last year.
Last month, Chadwick – who was born in Bath, grew up on the Isle of Man and was schooled at Cheltenham College – claimed ten points towards the 40 she needs after finishing fourth overall in the F3 Asian Championship.
With so many eyes on her, the Williams Grand Prix Engineering development driver is getting used to the spotlight but knows if she’s not the one to make to F1, it’s only a matter of time before another woman does.
“At the moment I’m thriving on it,” Chadwick said of the expectation. “It’s giving me an amazing opportunity and an amazing platform.
“But I think what I’m more aware of than ever now, even if it’s not me, the sport and the world want a female to succeed in motorsport.
“If I fail at it, I know there’s a young gun coming through at some point that is an absolute superstar that will make it to F1 because she deserves to and I see that as a really positive thing.
“Obviously I want to be the one that makes it but I know if that doesn’t happen for whatever reason and if I’m not good enough or I don’t get the results, then I’m excited for the future of the sport based on my experience so far.”
Growing up in a non-motorsport household led Chadwick to fall in love with the sport naturally – starting with go-karting, then racing in sports cars before transitioning back across to single seaters.
But because she didn’t watch the sport when she was younger her inspiration and sporting idol comes from outside the motor racing world and last month, she got to meet her – Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.
“I wasn’t from a motor racing background, so I wasn’t watching a race at home and saw a driver and thought ‘I need to be an F1 driver’,” Chadwick explained.
“Jess Ennis-Hill was actually my idol growing up. I met her and she’s incredible. What she’s achieved in her sport and the grace she’s achieved it with is incredibly inspirational and something I take a lot from.
“To actually be able to talk to her and hear it first-hand really does make a difference.”
The 2020 W Series isn’t due to kick off until May 29-30 when the first race gets underway in St Petersburg.
And after becoming the competition’s first-ever champion, Chadwick understands the significance of being involved and how it is changing perceptions.
“It’s really important, it’s putting women’s sport and women in motorsport on a pedestal which is unusual and a bit unheard of,” Chadwick added.
“But also, it has professionalised motorsport overnight for women and that is also unheard of in our sport.
“It’s given 20 girls an unbelievable opportunity and I think that’s something that no other organisation in the sport has managed to do over these recent times.”