Jamie Chadwick on course to end wait for first female F1 driver

Jamie Chadwick now leads the race to bridge a 43-year gap and become the first female F1 driver. Picture: Getty
Jamie Chadwick now leads the race to bridge a 43-year gap and become the first female F1 driver. Picture: Getty
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Jamie Chadwick has taken
another step towards her goal of breaking into Formula One as she joins Williams as a development driver.

The 21-year-old has emerged as the most likely candidate to end what is now a 43-year wait for a female driver in F1 as she has followed up successes 
in Formula 3 and the MRF Winter Series by leading the W Series.

That has earned her a chance with Williams, where she will join the academy and get to test herself in the simulator and learn from the inside what is needed to make it at the highest level.

“It is a great honour to be joining the Williams Racing Driver Academy,” Chadwick said. “The time in the simulator is a fantastic opportunity to aid with my development.

“I look forward to spending time in the factory at Grove, immersing myself within the team and assisting wherever I can. Being a part of the Driver Academy is an amazing platform and I’m excited to get started.”

Williams previously signed Susie Wolff to a development contract in 2012, and the Scot became the first woman to be involved in an F1 race weekend when she took part in the first practice at the British Grand Prix in 2014, only to suffer an early mechanical problem.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “Promoting
women in motorsport is extremely important and having a female role model as part of our Driver Academy will hopefully inspire young girls to take up racing at a young age. We hope to show that motorsport is inclusive and exciting, be that as a driver or on the engineering side. Jamie is a great talent and I look 
forward to working with her.”

l Fernando Alonso admitted it had been a “difficult week” after narrowly failing to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, denying him the chance to complete motorsport’s Triple Crown.

Having already achieved victories in the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hour, the two-time Formula One champion was hoping to add the Indy 500 title to his collection, but will now have to wait to match the accomplishment of the late Graham Hill.

Alonso was 31st fastest on Saturday and went into Sunday with a new set-up in the hope of grabbing one of the final three spots for the annual 200-lap, 500-mile race on Sunday.

The McLaren driver, who clocked a 227.353mph four-lap average, was bumped from the grid when Kyle Kaiser went only 0.019mph faster with the last run to make up the 33-strong qualifying 
pack.

Alonso wrote on Instagram: “A difficult week, no doubts. We tried our best, even today with a completely different set up and approach, 4 laps flat on the throttle but we were not fast enough.

“It’s never easy to drive around here at 227mph +, and want more speed... We tried our best and we’ve been brave at times, but there were people doing better job than us.

“Success or disappointments only come if you accept big challenges. We accepted.
Thanks to the massive 
support always here at the speedway and everyone at home. Now full focus on next target.”

McLaren also conceded it had been a tough week.

“We’re hugely disappointed
not to make it through to next Sunday’s 2019 #Indy500. It’s been a tough week for the team. We’re sorry that our fans didn’t get the chance to cheer us on at the Brickyard, but thank you all so much for your support. #McLaren66,” they tweeted.

Frenchman Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) took pole position with an average speed of 229.992mph.

Motorsport’s unofficial Triple Crown consist of wins at the Indy, Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix. Alonso enjoyed victory with Toyota Gazoo Racing at Le Mans in 2018 and won twice at Monaco before leaving Formula One last season.