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W Series: “Driving with F1 is the biggest step we could’ve possibly made”

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W Series just finished its first official weekend in Austria as an F1 feeder series. The Austrian race saw Alice Powell, Sarah Moore, and Fabienne Wohlwend on the podium after an exciting start of the 2021 season.

British driver Alice Powell dominated the race, even after the safety car restart. However, there is always room for improvement. Next week, W Series will race again at the Red Bull Ring and Powell’s objective is clear, as she told FormulaNerds: “For me, it’s just to get faster. I think there’s still some more time in there for sure and improve my sector 1, which certainly needs to improve. I think consistency is fairly good but just I know that there’s more time in it in qualifying and for sure there’s some more time in it in the race. So for me, it’s just going faster”

In fact, the high competitiveness of the category requires constant improvement, as Fabienne Wohlwend told us: “I think my main point to improve is qualifying so I really need to put the sectors in one lap because it’s super close here. I think I really improved my start in the race, which was my main point in 2019, so I think I got this right this time. I want to keep my strong, aggressive overtaking skills, which I’ve shown today, and also my reaction was really good. Race pace, in general, was really nice and I think we need to keep that for next weekend.”

W Series is having an important impact on the perception of female racers and it’s changing the narrative and, hopefully, the story of the sport. However, the drivers don’t feel any added pressure when racing on the same weekend as F1. Powell even discussed it with her mechanics: “Some of the mechanics asked me before we went out in free practice like “Oh well, it’s F1 weekend. Are you excited?” and I was like “it’s just another race. I’m just treating it like it’s another race.”. Obviously, we are all really happy to be here with Formula 1 and to have the level of support from Formula 1 but in terms of driving, I have not let that into my head. I’ve just got on track and done the best that I can. After next weekend, we obviously have Silverstone which will add up to that special feeling of being on an F1 weekend but when you’re in the car and your visor is down, you just got to do your job. It’s great in terms of the reception that we had from Formula One and from the fans and I think it’s doing wonders for the women in motorsports, giving people like myself and the other drivers the opportunity to get back out on track but also giving help to the younger drivers coming through, but on top of that mechanics, engineers, the PR side of things. There’ females everywhere that you look so it’s great to see and I think it’s fantastic for all.”

Wohlwend agreed with Powell, not denying, however,  some nerves before the start of the weekend: “Before this week I was super nervous and normally I don’t get nervous before the race weekend but, as Alice said, once the visor is down, I don’t let things get into my head. I kept it cool and just drove as any other race. Of course, it’s such a big series and it’s a dream to drive here in front of the crowd and all the Formula One people, so I really hope they watched our race because it was mega, just so much fun. We can think W Series is popular enough for making this happen for not only us driver but all the girls watching us, hopefully on tv, hopefully also on the grandstands that we have now pretty full. We are really going in the right direction”.

Finally, Moore added that: “In terms of what it has done women in sport, I think driving with F1 is the biggest step we could’ve possibly made so far and I think it’s made a big difference so far. I hope it will help to get young women involved not just as driver, but also as mechanics, engineers, and all the ways there are”

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