It was a good start, nothing more, but the fact that W Series has started is a cause for celebration. It is an ambitious project and one that is much needed. The aim is to provide opportunities for women who deserve to progress in motorsport and the fact that so few have in the past 70 years proves just why W Series is necessary.
Yesterday’s race at Hockenheim was no classic, but the podium places were taken by the right drivers and in the right order. Jamie Chadwick was the class of the field every time the cars were on the track and was a deserving winner, despite a first-lap error that she quickly put right. Alice Powell was good enough to score points in GP3 seven years ago and then the money dried up, so it was good to see her back at the sharp end of a single-seater race. In third was Marta Garcia, only 18 and looks fast and composed. She’ll get better with every race.
Also worthy of mention is Miki Koyama. The 21-year-old from Japan qualified a lowly seventeenth but battled her way to seventh at the flag. When she starts nearer the front she’ll contend for wins.
The next race at Zolder probably can’t come soon enough for Megan Gilkes. Approaching a hairpin on the wet side of the road and carrying too much speed usually ends in tears, particularly on the first lap. She’ll learn, and so will Emma Kimilainen, who made a mess of her start from the second row so was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Gilkes arrived on the scene.
Off the track there are some serious players involved in W Series, veterans of the Formula One paddock, but not so blinkered, like most in there, not to see a motor racing world beyond. The project has been shrewdly managed, with confidence but devoid of hype. W Series garnered plenty of media attention beyond the specialist press and it was good to see journalists whose job title is ‘Formula One Correspondent’ covering another branch of the sport.
The Channel 4 broadcast had a hint of dress rehearsal rather than opening night. The commentary chemistry between Claire Cottingham and David Coulthard needs to improve, but they have the right cast of characters in the main roles so there is plenty of cause for optimism.
W Series needed to happen and that the first race was not a thriller should not be a concern. Brilliant motor races are proportionately as frequent as brilliant football matches, and this is about the long game. The object is to identify a worthy champion, a driver that teams in series nearer the peak of the motorsport pyramid will take a look at and give a chance. There were plenty on show at Hockenheim on Saturday.
So it wasn’t a great race but it was a great day for motor racing. W Series is a force for good and we should all celebrate that.