W Series champion and Williams Formula 1 development driver Chadwick was named as Veloce Racing’s designated female driver for the inaugural season of the electric SUV series, marking her first official involvement in any off-road championship.
She will partner sportscar veteran and sometime Subaru WRC driver Stephane Sarrazin for the five-round series that kicks off this weekend in Saudi Arabia.
Chadwick has raced almost exclusively in junior single-seaters since 2017, picking up race wins in BRDC Formula 3 and the F3 Asian Championship as well as titles in W Series (2019) and MRF Challenge Formula 2000 (2018-19).
But the 22-year-old Briton told Motorsport.com that the chance to join the star-studded Extreme E field, which also includes DTM legend Mattias Ekstrom, World Rallycross star Johan Kristoffersson and serial Dakar Rally competitor Laia Sanz, was worth stepping outside of her comfort zone for.
“It really is for sure, the highest level that I would have raced at,” Chadwick said. “And I think it just showcases how important this opportunity is that Extreme E are giving us by, making it an equal pairing with one male and one female [per team], because I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without that, to showcase my abilities up against those guys.
“You learn racing against the best. It’s kind of taking me out of the junior motorsport ladder and just throwing me straight in at the top. But I really like that, and I think that’s something that I can thrive on and enjoy.
“In terms of what I’ll gain out of the championship, I’ve always prided myself on trying to be as versatile as possible. I really think there is no fixed way as to how to make it in this sport. And I think by doing all this different stuff, learning so much, and being able to adapt and challenge myself, it’s a really positive thing.
“Having that kind of diverse career is incredibly important to me, and also something I really, really enjoy. I think it would just be a shame to turn down any opportunity to have such an incredible chance to race in so many different series.”
Stephane Sarrazin, Jamie Chadwick, Veloce Racing
Photo by: Veloce Racing
Chadwick has limited experience of electric cars from her two days of testing in Formula E, spending a day each driving for NIO 333 and Jaguar, but she admitted this was of little relevance when it came to trying the Spark-built ODYSSEY 21 for the first time in a group test at Aragon last December.
“The main thing with the Extreme E car, everything’s so different,” she said. “It’s hard to draw any parallels with anything that I’ve done before.
“The Formula E testing was really valuable, but that was very much about management and saving the energy over the course of the race. In Extreme E you go flat-out and make the most of what you’ve got for one lap, which is a completely different style of racing to anything I’ve done before anyway.”
Formula Regional disappointment “makes me stronger”
Chadwick will combine racing in Extreme E with a second season of racing in the W Series, which returns this year following its 2020 hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
She admits that being able to race in the Formula Regional European Championship in 2020 while most of her key rivals from the 2019 season were left on the sidelines again makes her the favourite as the all-female series is added to the F1 support bill for 2020.
“You can’t deny that I’ve had possibly the best preparation running up into the season,” Chadwick admitted. “But at the same time, I think everyone knows the stakes and how big the opportunity is that W Series is offering now with the media exposure and super licence points. Everyone is gonna be working overtime to try and win the championship.
“For me last year, was a massive learning year in Formula Regional, I think I was able to take a lot from that season. And I think what I take from that season into this year is going to be more valuable than anything else.”
Jamie Chadwick celebrates on the podium with the trophy
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
Reflecting on her Formula Regional campaign that yielded a disappointing ninth in the points and only one podium in 23 races, Chadwick added: “Initially I looked back at last year with quite a lot of frustration because I was with Prema, and the goal was to continue with Prema to FIA F3. But actually, now I see there are a lot of positives to take from it.
“It was an incredibly tough year, there were a lot of factors that were in my control, but also out of my control, that all added up to the season. And the season not going how I would have liked is something I have learned a lot from and makes me stronger this year.
“The goals haven’t changed. With everything that happened last year, it kind of puts me a year behind. But I still want to be able to perform and step up to F3, F2 level and get on the official feeder pathway [to F1]. And I think the W Series gives me the platform to do that.”
Chadwick said she had also hoped to race in Euroformula Open this season, but ultimately elected to focus on just the W Series and Extreme E, along with her Williams F1 simulator work.
“I had hoped to put in a third championship in there, and I did a bit of testing in the Euroformula car at the end of last year,” she said. “But I think with so much going on at the moment, focusing on two championships and really putting all my energy and emphasis into those two was the best option.
“I’ve also got the relationship with Williams and the simulator role is actually quite intense as well, with the race weekend support. It’s going to be busy year for sure.”
Photo by: FIA F3 Asia Winter Series