Powell takes lights-to-flag victory in W Series opener

W Series

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Alice Powell won the first W Series race of 2021, leading every lap from pole position at the Red Bull Ring.

But reigning series champion Jamie Chadwick endured a difficult race, finishing seventh.

Powell shared the front row of the grid with Sarah Moore, followed by Belen Garcia and Beitske Visser on the second row, then Emma Kimilainen and Jessica Hawkins behind. Chadwick, who struggled to set a clear lap during qualifying, started the race from eighth on the grid.

Powell got away cleanly, Moore and Garcia following her without incident. However Chadwick collided with Jessica Hawkins in the braking zone for turn one, sliding into the run-off and falling to 16th.

The order remained fairly steady for the first half of the 30-minute-plus-one-lap race. The distant Chadwick was lapping over a second-and-a-half quicker some of the cars ahead, but was short on time to catch them.

With 13 minutes to go, Garcia went off the track at turn six, rejoining behind Miki Koyama in ninth place and taking herself out of podium contention. Garcia immediately came under pressure from Nerea Marti, having to defend as the two went wheel-to-wheel down the third straight.

Powell led all the way from pole position
Marta Garcia then slowed on track with a car problem, sliding down the order with 11 minutes of race time remaining. Yellow flags came out in the second sector where her car’s race ended.

The Safety Car was deployed – a blessing for Chadwick, who was now within range of her rivals. The race resumed with four and a half minutes to go, Powell leading the restart. She, Moore and Visser got away without trouble for half a lap, until Visser was tagged by Kimilainen and spun round, dropping to the back of the field.

Fabienne Wolhwend was able to take advantage of Kimilainen’s damaged front wing from the contact with Visser, almost immediately taking third place from her. This all played into Chadwick’s hands, the Veloce driver rising to ninth as the penultimate lap began.

Four drivers went side-by-side into turn one that time by, Kimilainen losing places and locking up with her damaged front wing. The wing finally came off, flying dramatically into the air and fortunately avoiding other drivers behind her.

Powell led the field home to the chequered flag, Moore finishing second and Wohlwend completing the podium. It was Powell’s second consecutive victory in the series, having won the 2019 season finale before last year’s championship was banned due to the pandemic. Having waited some 700 days for this race, the drivers will be back in action again in just seven days’ time at the same circuit.

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W Series Austria race results

PositionDriverTeam
1Alice PowellRacing X
2Sarah MooreqScuderia W
3Fabienne WohlwendBunker Racing
4Belen GarciaScuderia W
5Jessica HawkinsRacing X
6Miki KoyamaSirin Racing
7Jamie ChadwickVeloce Racing
8Nerea MartiAcademy
9Irina SidorkovaAcademy
10Gosia RdestPUMA
11Ayla AgrenM.Forbes
12Bruna TomaselliVeloce Racing
13Beitske VisserM.Forbes
14Emma KimilainenEcurie W
15Sabré CookBunker Racing
16Abbie EatonEcurie W
DNFVicky PiriaSirin Racing
DNFMarta GarciaPUMA

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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15 comments on “Powell takes lights-to-flag victory in W Series opener”

  1. This is the first time that I have watched a W series race and I enjoyed it lots of close racing. I will definitely watch the following races.

    1. Thought it was a good race, especially given the series has been in suspended animation for so long so there’s plenty of cobwebs presumably had to be scooped out of the cars etc.

      Marti on Garcia properly had me screaming at the telly, have no idea how they avoided that becoming a collision – must have been inches in it.

    2. Same here, I’ve just started watching the W Driven doc on C4, so thought I would give the race a look at. Thought it was a little tame at first; but soon got spicy.

  2. Something’s a mess with the formatting on the results part.

    1. My bad, you’d think I would know how to check an HTML tag – thanks for flagging.

      1. NP Hazel :)

  3. Great performance by Powell. First W series Grand Slam, I believe. Well controlled, great start and restart. Chadwick’s recovery drive was pretty impressive, 16th to 7th (possibly 6th if Hawkins gets a post race time penalty). I really wish there was a 2nd race this weekend.

    A bit of rustiness lower down the field, which kept it close. There were a couple of drivers (Sidorkova was one) who ran wide when challenged side by side, and unfairly stayed ahead. Would be nice to see a bit more forthright stewarding (such as still nothing yet said about Hawkins punting Chadwick off, or Kimilainen being allowed to race for 3 laps with a front wing that was always going to come off), but maybe leniency given for the rustiness?

    1. Jess Hawkins penalty confirmed. 30s was more than I anticipated (drive thru converted to time penalty). Drops her to 16th. Wouldn’t have been as far back without the safety car bunching them up.

  4. I know that this may come across as insensitive, maybe it’s because I’m too used to seeing his name on headlines, but my very first thought was “what the hell is Will Power doing racing the ladies?”.

    Anyway, seems like it was a lively race behind the leader. Will check it later. Full honors to Alice.

  5. I don’t know why Kimilainen was allowed to race with her front wing. This thing was always going to come off (and it did).

    1. Absolutely! Seeing that wing fly over in the main straight was scary.
      I have nothing against Kimilainen and hope she is doing well in the series, but this needs to be penalized or teams are going to gamble on such situation in the future, which may end very badly.

  6. Only a clarification, the García who went off at turn six is not the same García who had the mechanical problem. Belén, who was off at turn six and dropped to 9th, was able to recover back to 4th position, with a very good last two laps. A great race for a rookie. The driver whose car broke was Marta García.

    Great race and spectacle, the last laps after the SC have been amazing.

  7. I wasn’t aware this was being broadcast live in my region so I stumbled on it while I was looking for the Lions rugby match and watched the last 15/20 minutes.

    It was a pretty entertaining race, lots of action, but it seems like a quite few of the drivers had a bit of ring rust (justifiably so in some cases).

  8. My son was absolutely enthralled by this race! I’ve never given him the impression that motorsport was male only but he was surprised to watch a race with only females. I think subconsciously he’d categorised car racing as something only boys do cause that’s what he sees. I think today really opened his eyes and expanded his mind. The racing was great and I’ll definitely be following this championship to the end.

  9. Good race overall, good action, I enjoyed watching it.
    It’s shame there is no sprint race to give the competitors more time in the cars.

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