2021 Styrian Grand Prix: The W Series debrief

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Most of us were two years younger the last time W Series raced back at the Brands Hatch season finale. The extended absence created a sense of anticipation that could easily have seen the W Series 2021 season struggle to live up to expectations.

The Styria race certainly allayed those fears. The 18 drivers put on a show worthy of supporting F1 and kept everyone at GP Grandstand delighted…

Jacob Phillips – “More of the same next time please”

This was my first taste of W series and I must say I enjoyed it. Given the long hiatus, there was high anticipation and for the most part, it didn’t disappoint.

Alice Powell was my driver of the weekend, dominating on both days. Her victory from pole came as no surprise after she controlled both the practice and qualifying on Friday. Expect her to be up there once we get to Mexico.

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Sarah Moore went a bit unnoticed in 2019, so it was a pleasant surprise to see her up on the podium this weekend. Fabienne Wohlwend nabbed the final spot on the rostrum with a great charging drive from 9th.

Many thought that 2019 champion Jamie Chadwick would be a strong contender in Austria but her weekend came undone through a problem in qualifying and contact in the race. A whole raft of other contenders hit trouble in the latter half of the race with the race descending into chaos with a late safety car. More of the same next time out, please.

Thiemo Albers-Daly – “Even more thrilling than Formula 1 “

Suffice to say, W Series didn’t disappoint – it was even more thrilling than the Formula 1 race!

Controlling the race from the moment the lights went out, Alice Powell drove smoothly and didn’t put a foot wrong. She mastered the race restart after a brief Safety Car period and continued conquering until she crossed the finish line. Oh, and she got the fastest lap of the race too.

Defending W Series champion, Jamie Chadwick, didn’t have the best weekend overall, but it should still be one she’s happy with. Whilst P7 is not what she would have been hoping for, Chadwick still got some decent points on the board. With a short season of only eight rounds, every point is crucial.

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When Sarah Moore crossed the finish line in second place, the British driver became the first openly LGBTQ+ driver to claim a spot on the podium during a Grand Prix weekend. Representation matters in motorsport – and this was a brilliant way to highlight it this weekend.

Jim Kimberley – “30 minutes passed by far too quickly”

For the drivers contesting W Series in 2019, the stakes were sky-high. As we saw with Jamie Chadwick’s subsequent ascent into Extreme E and FREC, opportunities will present themselves to the winner. Yet 2021 makes W’s first season small-fry by comparison!

In the shadow of Formula 1 represents a double-edged sword for W Series in 2021. More attention and eyeballs will be on the young competition than in its inaugural season. Should it, and its drivers, live up to the hype, the sky is the limit. Poor performances, or low-quality racing, however, could permanently turn away potential fans and sponsors, or career options for the 18 drivers.

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Should Styria be the standard, there’s nothing to worry about. The overtakes and action thrilled through 30 minutes that passed by far too quickly. As our special guest Floris Visman (of F1FeederSeries.com) says in our Talking F All podcast this week, the races are just too short! With any appearance of a safety car, the time for action is severely cut down.

With F2 and F3 having three races per round in 2021, maybe I’m too spoiled with feeder series track time. Or maybe I’m just too excited about having W Series back that I don’t want to think it’ll be over in just seven races…

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