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Jessica Hawkins W Series F1 Aston Martin

Exclusive: Jess Hawkins on her racing career, W Series and Aston Martin’s driver line-up

FormulaNerds spoke to W Series racing driver Jessica Hawkins whilst she was in Abu Dhabi with Aston Martin

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Jess Hawkins spoke to FormulaNerds about all things racing, including her career in the industry, W Series and Aston Martin.

Jess Hawkins W Series F1 Academy Aston Martin Racing
Jessica Hawkins at Brands Hatch. (Photo by Carl Bingham / LAT Images)

Jessica Hawkins is a British racing driver and has many strings to her bow. Across the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, FormulaNerds sat down with Jess and discussed all things from her career in racing, Aston Martin’s driver line-ups and females in motorsport. Jess even revealed her Guinness World Record for having the World’s Fastest Lawnmower from 0-100mph.

Jess has experience in several aspects of motor racing including racing, most recently, for Bristol Street Motors in the 2022 W Series season. When asked by FormulaNerds how she came to work in the motorsport industry, Jess admitted that motorsport “was never supposed to be a career.”

When she was younger, Jess was “always a really sporty kid” and knew that her career would probably involve a sport. However, motorsport was something new to her when she discovered a kart track while playing golf with her father.

Jess told FormulaNerds that at the time, she “didn’t really have any idea what” the kart track was. But, they let her have a go and from there, it was a “hobby that never ended”.

After twenty years, she’s still involved in the industry and is “really proud” of the journey she’s had.

Competing in W Series and the future of females in motorsport

Jess has competed in each of the three seasons of W Series since it first began back in 2019. Speaking to FormulaNerds, the British driver said that one of the highlights of her career was the opening round of W Series this year, in 2022.

The 2022 season of W Series was originally going to hold 10 races, more than ever before. However, unfortunately, some obstacles stopped the championship from being able to complete its final two rounds.

The first round of the season was held in Miami and it included a double-header of two races across the one weekend. During that weekend, Jess achieved a podium. Commenting on that podium finish, she said:

“You just can’t replicate those feelings, the emotions that you feel. Especially on the back of a year, the previous year which I struggled in. We lacked pace all year [and to] come back in the first race the following season and find pace again, and a podium was pretty special.”

Jess Hawkins W Series Racing F1 Academy Aston Martin
Jessica Hawkins, 3rd position, with her trophy and champagne at Miami International Autodrome on Saturday, May 07, 2022, in Miami, United States of America. (Photo by Sam Bloxham / LAT Images)
F1 Academy – “The more the merrier”

With W Series having been cancelled and no confirmation of whether a 2023 season will go ahead, all eyes turned to the F1 Academy. FormulaNerds also asked Jess what her thoughts are on the F1 Academy and whether W Series can help it grow. Jess commented saying:

“I’d like to think that some of, if not all of, the W Series drivers are already role models to younger children, to younger females to look up to.”

She said she hopes W Series drivers could “maybe help mentor the younger generation” of females entering motorsport. Jess continued saying:

“I’ll certainly get involved where I can if I’m allowed. I am very passionate about helping girls in motorsport and I’m sure that they [W Series and F1 Academy] can work in line with each other. All female participation in motorsport to me is a very good thing. The more the merrier.”

Whilst Jess hopes W Series will return, she has work off the race track to complete.

Being a part of Aston Martin

As well as being a racing driver, Jess is a driver ambassador for Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team. Throughout her time with the team, she has completed various tasks and worked alongside Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel.

Speaking about her role as a driver ambassador, Jess said it initially involved her having a “media role”. She worked a lot with “the sponsors”, and did lots of “interviews, hot laps, taking sponsors out on the circuits.”

But as time has gone on, her role has “grown a lot” recently. Jess noted that she “started on the simulator a couple of months ago, which is obviously a massive step.”

Elaborating on her simulator work, Jess said:

“Obviously the step from W Series to Formula 1 would be huge. I’ve driven some amazing simulators in my time, but this is just a level-up. This was next level. This was, I guess, the closest thing I’d get to driving a Formula 1 car.

“It was amazing. It certainly took some time but not too long to get used to it and honestly it went better than I thought it would. I adapted to it very quickly and was extremely competitive time-wise. But yeah, I was very pleased.”

Whilst Jess has yet to drive a Formula 1 car, she has worked alongside Lance Stroll and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. With Vettel retiring, Jess acknowledged that everybody is “extremely sad”. However, it’s not a bad thing as, in Jess’s words, Aston Martin:

“lose one great and gain another.”

Welcoming Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin

Fernando Alonso is joining Aston Martin in 2023. He’s filling the seat Vettel left behind but Jess believes it’ll be “fantastic” to have the Spaniard join the team.

She said: “I think a new set of eyes isn’t a bad thing. All angles and all experience is welcome. He’s [Alonso] had great success in the past and he knows how to drive cars, he knows how to set up cars around him. If he can bring anything to the team, I’m sure it’s going to be very welcome.”

Aston Martin’s Initiatives

Aston Martin are known for their initiatives, especially since Vettel campaigned for many different causes and issues around the world. FormulaNerds asked Jess about her involvement with these initiatives, such as Racing Pride.

Jess said that “at the time, [she] wasn’t quite ready to become an ambassador” for such things. It was all “just a little bit too soon.”

However, she “absolutely applaud[s]” the work Aston Martin are doing. Jess continued saying: “I’ll help them do some interviews, and more than happy to help where I can so perhaps that’s a conversation for the future. I’m a little bit more ready now.

“I applaud what they do, they stand for all the right reasons. They’re giving faith to many who need it, who need some help along the way.”

Being involved with such an active team and having topics that she’s passionate about herself, Jess and Aston Martin make a great team to spread wider messages.

Racing Ventures

Jess is not only a racing driver in W Series; her time in a car is vast and ranges from many categories. Some notable ventures include Jess’s work as a stunt driver, particularly on James Bond.

With motorsport not being her original career plan, FormulaNerds asked Jess how exactly she got into stunt driving. Jess explained saying she “ran out of budget to go racing” as she was finding “it really difficult to bring sponsors in to go racing.”

From there, a Facebook post looking for females to do car control sent her on her stunt driving career. Jess detailed the audition process commenting on how once she’d passed the interview stage, there was “an audition where [she] had to drift and do all loads of stuff that [she’d] never done before.”

“They taught me some basic things and I went to this audition…Honestly, I must have fluked the audition. I probably started on the first day as one of the worst.

“But by the end of the audition process, I like to think I was one of the best and honestly I think it was my rate of progression that got me the job.”

 Spillway in Iceland

In addition to her stunt driving, Jess has also driven the Range Rover Sport up the Spillway in Iceland.

Jess Hawkins W Series Aston Martin Racing
Jess Hawkins driving the Range Rover Sport up the Spillway in Iceland. Photo credit: media.landrover.com

When speaking to FormulaNerds, Jess said that the Range Rover Sport was “amazing.” It was an “incredible car and for a task like that I needed a great car, so luckily I had one.”

With the Spillway being challenging terrain, Jess admitted it “was really hairy at times, but we did make it up.” She explained saying:

“When the waves were coming down there were some ripples in the spillway, which would create waves that oxygenate the water. But as it was creating waves there was a massive thud each time I was driving up and there were points where I was like ‘Oh my God, is it going to make it?’ But it did it with ease.”

Jess has achieved a lot in her career since she started karting. With many talents under her belt and achievements to be proud of, who knows where her career will take her next?

Headline Image Credit: GettyImages

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