W Series: Styrian Grand Prix 2021 Preview

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It will have been a whopping 685 days on Saturday since W Series last went racing. The Covid-19 Pandemic scuppered any plans for a 2020 season, so we’ve all had to patiently wait for the 2021 season to get underway instead.

And now, as you’re reading this, it’s tantalizingly close. Seeing as your memory might not be totally up to scratch on what to look out for, I thought I’d give you a helping hand. Here’s what you need to know ahead of the first round of W Series in Austria this weekend…

Defending Champion Chadwick

British driver, Jamie Chadwick, was the inaugural winner of the W Series Championship. She clinched the title at the final race of the season at Brands Hatch back in 2019.

She’s been able to get some more racing under her belt since then, notably European Formula 3 and Extreme E, so it will be interesting to see how she goes about defending her championship title.

Jamie Chadwick Extreme E Veloce Racing
Image: Veloce Racing

In 2019 she was one of the more experienced single-seater racers after getting the laps in before W Series in the MRF Challenge. Will her off road racing be a help or hindrance for defending her crown?

Other 2021 W Series Title Contenders

Now, despite the fact that Chadwick was crowned W Series Champion, there were several other close contenders in 2019. Each of them is back on the grid this time and will be chomping at the bit to claim the throne.

Beitske Visser was Chadwick’s nearest rival and will have a point to prove this time around. Alice Powell and Marta Garcia were also not far behind in the hunt and it would be naïve to rule them out of title contention.

W Series Trophies
Image: W Series

And do not write off Emma Kimiläinen. The Finn missed out on a couple of the early rounds of the 2019 season due to injury in Round 1, but make stonking progress when she returned. Kimiläinen will definitely be one to watch.

So even before we talk about the new drivers, we already have at least five title contenders. It’s going to be a fascinating season. Talking of new drivers…

Fresh W Series Fresh for 2021

Photo Credit: SMP Racing

There’s a host of new women on the grid this year with a variety of backgrounds. All of which will be brilliant to watch to see who ends up on top by the end of the year.

Abbie Eaton (former Grand Tour and GT Racing driver), Irina Sidorkova (F3 Asia driver), Ayla Agren (former Indy driver), Belen Garcia (female F4 Champion), Bruna Tomaselli (F2000 driver), Nerea Marti (Spanish Formula 4 driver) and Gosia Rdest (24 Hours of Dubai winner 2018) are all the W Series rookies this time around.

Some have experience in single-seater racing whilst for others, it will be their first time. I for one am intrigued to see how each of them will fare over the first race of the new season.

The Hills are Alive with the sounds of Engines

Any of you reading this who have seen W Series before know that each race in 2019 was packed with close wheel to wheel action. The Red Bull Ring in Austria is a great place then for W Series to start the new season.

Vicky Piria W Series
Image: W Series

There are plenty of overtaking opportunities available as well as a good few places where the drivers with some daring might risk a cheeky overtake. With some rubber laid down on the track already by the F1 cars by the time W Series goes racing, the extra grip just might come into play too.

Level Playing Field

Vivien Kesztheyli
Image: W Series

In 2019, W Series was unique in that none of the drivers were part of a racing team. Each of them flew solo as it were and as such, there was no need for the fans to worry about inter-team battles or how that might impact a race. Although this is set to change for 2021, 2020 sees a transitional year with equal cars but competitors grouped together.

That means all the drivers have exactly the same cars. Mechanics will float between the drivers to keep everyone on an even keel. With such a blanket level of equality, W Series will really demonstrate which drivers are consistently quick and skilful behind the wheel and which ones aren’t quite cutting the mustard. All of that makes for some rather excellent box office entertainment. I can’t wait for the red lights to go out.

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