FormulaNerds Cut To The Race Podcast

“We want to put on a good show”

W Series star Abbie Eaton talks to FormulaNerds

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The all female single-seater championship, W Series, concluded their pre-season test at Anglesey race circuit in Wales on Friday, ahead of their season opener in June supporting Formula One. 

The 20 drivers who completed the five day test, ran a total of 4723 laps across the 3.4km circuit. Situated in north Wales, Anglesey provided the drivers with varied conditions in preparation to support eight races during the Formula One season.  Driving the W Series Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 race car, all drivers were able to get to grips with the full range of tyre options provided by tyre partner Hankook and get back into the swing of things after taking a year out due to the ongoing global pandemic.

During the test, FormulaNerds had the opportunity to speak to British driver Abbie Eaton, who competes in her inaugural W Series season this year. We captured her thoughts surrounding the test days, how she is feeling supporting Formula One and what her expectations are for this year.

Image Credit: W Series

Prior to the pre-season test, you have had very limited experience in single seater cars, especially since the W Series season was cancelled last year due to the ongoing pandemic. How does it feel to be finally testing the car?

“Really good, I am really enjoying it. This is the most running I’ve ever had in a single seater so I’m like a sponge, just absorbing everything and asking all the questions and taking it all in.”

How did the test go for you overall and how different does the car feel compared to anything else you have ever driven?

“The aspects are very similar, there are certain techniques that are very different to extract the most out of the car and I have had to work on that over the past couple of days. But I have been taking some steps forward and sometimes surprised myself with my pace which is good, I have lots to learn still but I am definately making a lot of progress already which is awesome.”

I know that all of the W Series drivers take fitness and wellbeing very seriously, how have you been preparing for this season, both physically and mentally?

“Physically, a lot of training, I have upped my training schedule a lot, but obviously during lockdown it was difficult to maintain that with the gyms being shut and so on, but a lot of strength work, a lot of conditioning, so trying to get your cardio system to cope with the demanding schedules and so on. The car itself, I am feeling good in it, I am feeling strong in the car, there are certain elements that I know I need to work on which is mainly just the seat position, as each car you get into is slightly different, so you end up using different muscles. Until you are actually in the car you are going to drive, you don’t know which areas need to be worked on. I am getting some good feedback now from that so I can pass that back onto my trainers, and we can crack the whip a little bit more before the season starts.”

How vital is the pre-season test for all of the drivers to be prepared for this season?

“Massively. Just in terms of the time in the car and on the track alone. Just getting a feel for the car, feeling what it likes, what it doesn’t like, you know each car is different and each car has got a different characteristic in which I might need to change my driving style to extract the most out of it. I think even just working with the engineers to see how it all operates, I have been running quite a lot of practice runs to the grid as it would be in F1, just to make sure that everything is slick when it comes down to the race weekend.”

Image Credit: W Series

Do you think there is more pressure on W Series and the drivers now that you are supporting Formula One this year?

“I wouldn’t say there is a kind of pressure, but we want to put a good show on for the fans and for Formula One, and for ourselves. We are all good level drivers, we want to perform as best we can as well, and do ourselves proud. With it being Formula One, obviously it adds a different element in terms of publicity and profile so we are all on a bit more of a pedestal in those terms and regardless of where we are and what publicity we have got, we all treat the weekend exactly the same as we would, and give it 100% and see what’s what.”

We saw last year how Formula One managed to keep all drivers, teams and personnel safe with strict Covid-19 protocol. What are W Series doing to ensure you are within the FIA guidelines to be able to test safely without the risk?

“We are working in bubbles, just following the Formula One protocols, in bubbles just to minimise the risk if someone does get it we aren’t going to take down the full grid with us. The sanitisation that is going on is next level and everyone is being extremely careful with social distancing and all that jazz. Formula One were very very good last year, and quite strict at keeping everyone safe and everyone stuck to it. W Series have got to be at that same level as F1 so everything is the same here at Anglesey on test week, just to make sure that we are in the swing of things and we don’t put a foot wrong when we get to the actual races.”

What are your realistic expectations for this season given that you have never raced in single seaters?

“I probably had higher expectations before coronavirus and since I have had this year out I have kind of altered my expectations a little bit just to take a bit of pressure off of myself. My main goal for this year is a learning year, like a glorified test year if you like, just learning the car, learning the process at the track and the different schedules, how it operates and how I operate. Ideally I would like to make it through to year two, my goal is a kind of two year plan, with a learning year this year and next year to push for the title so we will see how it goes. I am sure this year is going to have it’s ups and downs with motorsports well known for having peaks and troughs but the main thing is to be consistent with each time I go out to improve and chip away.”

W Series are racing at a few new circuits this year including Mexico and Circuit of the Americas, are there any in particular that you are most looking forward to racing at?

“Probably to be expected, Silverstone. It is my home circuit, I know the circuit well, and my family will be able to attend as well so I will be looking forward to going there. Probably Circuit of the Americas at the end of the year as well, it is going to be an interesting one, as like most of the other girls it is all pretty new circuits for us, every circuit apart from Silverstone and Spa is going to be new for me. It will be an interesting year, lots of learning but definitely Silverstone is the one I am looking forward to the most.” 

W Series will commence their 2021 season on 26th June in Austria, in support of Formula One’s Styrian Grand Prix.


Headline Image: W Series


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