Two-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick says she sees the FIA World Endurance Championship as a serious option for the next step in her career.
Chadwick took part in WEC’s end-of-season Rookie Test at the Bahrain International Circuit, where she drove the #1 Richard Mille Racing Team ORECA 07-Gibson alongside Alice Powell and Liloux Wadou.
The Briton has spent few years of her career climbing the single seater ladder from British F3 to the W Series, which she would go on to win the first two seasons of. Chadwick has also spent a season in the Formula Regional European Championship with Prema, but with disappointing results, and is still within a role with the Williams Formula One team as a test- and development driver.
While Chadwick has never made a secret of her ambitions of one day making it to Formula One, she has branched out to multiple disciplines. She has previously had success in sportscars, notably winning the Nurburgring 24 Hours in her class, and has competed in Extreme E.
Now, with a test outing in an LMP2 car under her belt, Chadwick told MotorsportWeek.com that she considers WEC a viable candidate for the next step in her racing career.
“Really seriously,” she replies when asked how seriously she’s taking the series from a career standpoint. “It’s a dream of mine to be in Le Mans anyway. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to be involved in this paddock and the opportunity with Richard Mille [Racing Team] is massive. So I’m definitely taking it very seriously.”
Chadwick covered her first miles ever in prototype machinery behind the wheel of the ORECA and stated that she would very much be interested in racing in the LMP2 ranks if an opportunity presented itself.
“All dependent on the opportunity coming around, but definitely something I’d love to do,” said the 23-year-old. “Like I said before, Le Mans is a dream of mine. So this something I’m interested in.”
Chadwick completed a total of 26 laps aboard the car, only getting behind the wheel in the afternoon session as Powell carried out running in the morning.
She set her quickest lap time, a 01:53:668, towards the end of her running. Afterwards, Chadwick admitted that she needed to adapt her driving style to the car, as it was not like something she was used to previously.
“It’s really impressive. It’s a very different driving style. It’s not necessarily all about the one lap that we’re pushing, all guns blazing, you need the slightly more refined style, which took me a bit of time to sort of adapt to.”
“It’s a really impressive car and I think, for me, one of the quickest cars I’ve driven in terms of power, so to feel that for the first time exiting the pitlane is cool.”
Despite previous experience in both more high-downforce single seaters as well as various GT cars, the W Series star admitted that she struggled in her first outing behind the wheel of the championship-winning LMP2 car. Despite that, she did state that she’s enjoying the learning process and feels like she is making steps to improve.
“I think I locked up into most corners on a regular basis,” Chadwick said laughing. “It was a bit tricky to manage the braking. Especially because it’s a closed cockpit, you can’t always see when you’ve locked it, so getting a feel for that.”
“Like I said, you always want to not overdrive, you want to bring the aggression back a little bit and let the car come to you a bit. That took a bit of time but I felt like every time I get back in that car, I just learn more and more and adapt better and better.”
“I don’t think I was anywhere near the peak performance of the car at all. Definitely feel there’s a lot of room for improvement, but happy with the progress we made in the short time and I think the feeling I had for the car was good by the end.”
Signatech ‘leave no stone unturned’
The Rookie test was also Chadwick’s first introduction to the French Signatech team, which operates the Richard Mille Racing Team LMP2 squad as well as the Alpine Hypercar effort. The experience left an impression on the British youngster, as she praised the team’s professionalism and attention to detail.
“A really, really professional team. I think the main thing is how they operate as a team, the team spirit is so significant. I think that’s such a big part of how they work and operate. Making sure all the drivers are working towards the same goal is really important for them.”
“That’s one of the big things, but also, there’s no stone left unturned. They’re super clinical with their approach and it’s good to see.”
Were Chadwick to move into endurance racing, potentially as part of the Richard Mille Racing Team, she could draw on her previous two outings in the Nürburgring 24 Hours for experience in an endurance environment. She contested the race twice: first in 2018 and once again a year later. On the second attempt, teaming with Alex Brundle and Peter Cate, the trio won the SP8 class in an Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
“It definitely helps, and I’ll lean on the experiences I’ve had in the endurance races I’ve done,” Chadwick spoke of her Nürburgring outings. “It’s very different and obviously a GT4 car and the Nurburgring is a bit more survival than anything else, but definitely those longer stints, being in the car for long periods of time and management of tyres and fuel, it should play into my hands a bit more.”