With the W Series 2021 championship fast approaching, we’re wondering who could make the biggest mark this year. We’ve spoken about the drivers that won’t be returning for the season. They sadly didn’t automatically qualify for season two. Finishing in the top 12 of the 2019 W Series championship table, after all, was no mean feat for those that managed it.
Let’s not forget that for some of the field, W Series was a lifeline that resuscitated floundering careers. Alice Powell, a Formula Renault champion, was working full-time with her father on house renovations and driver coaching. Now she’s back in racing and took a brilliant victory at Brands Hatch.
For many of the drivers in 2019, single-seater racing was not necessarily the pathway of their career. Learning the skills required to be quick in an F3 car made the challenge of the racing season that bit harder.
In 2021, a lot of those excuses and learning curves will be gone. Which, for me, only intensifies the excitement about the season ahead. We’re going to see just who really has the speed to take the fight to the 2019 race winners. Chadwick, Visser, Garcia, Kimilainen, and Powell. All of them already will remain in the W Series history books.
Now we gear up for the 2021 W Series season. The drivers are hard at work training and practicing on iRacing. Let’s have a look at five of the 2019 drivers looking to step up a gear in 2021.
Cook made steady progress in 2019 with three points finishes out of six races. A highest finish of 7th at the chaotic Norisring race was her best finish of the season. She showed her credentials at the reverse-grid Assen race by taking P3 off the line and clinched silverware.
Sabre is one of many drivers across all motorsport who has battled with a crippling lack of funding to pursue her dreams in racing. Cook will be fired up and ready to target her first points-scoring W Series podiums throughout 2021.
Hawkins was out of single-seaters for three years before her W Series lifeline. Once the rust was shaken off, she finished the season strongly with a brace of 7th places. Hawkins professed on Instagram that simracing was not her forte, but she still scored well throughout 2020.
A one-off race weekend in the BTCC in 2020 and some rallycross action meanwhile kept her on the physical race tracks and further from her stunt driver past. Could this prove valuable for a 2021 title fight?
Pepper had been out of single-seaters for seven years by the time W Series commenced in 2019. That didn’t stop her from going on a super consistent scoring run across the first four races. An error on a wet kerb saw her only retirement at Assen, and she could only manage 12th at Brands Hatch to finish the year.
Pepper’s esports season was even better. She showed a consistently fast pace and overtaking prowess to finish 5th at the end of the season. If she can bring that to the real world, the rest of the W Series field might be in for a tough fight.
W Series was made for drivers like Vicky Piria. Despite finishing a respectable 10th in the 2013 European F3 Open championship, her last racing season was just 4 starts in Pro Mazda in 2014. Once in W Series, Piria managed to bag three points finishes including a brilliant 5th at Misano and 6th at Brands Hatch.
Piria struggled somewhat in the esports championship, despite showing great pace at the Interlagos round. We must remember, though, that for an actual racing driver, a simulator must feel somewhat like racing blindfolded. So many sensory inputs are removed from the lack of g-force. There is no sensation of the bumps through the seat nor any wind hitting the helmet. Which is a long way of saying don’t discount Vicky Piria!
The 2009 Ginetta Junior champion, Moore is a classic example of one of the drivers who had to adapt to racing a single-seater in 2019. That she did so well finishing in the points in all but one race tells you how quick Moore really is.
Moore bagged an emphatic victory at the Silverstone round of the esports league and has subsequently been streaming her iRacing online. Well worth tuning in to hear Sarah and her good friend, Alice Powell, taking the mickey out of each other!