LONDON (Reuters) – Jamie Chadwick, leader of the women’s W Series, celebrated her 21st birthday on Monday with a new role as development driver for the Williams Formula One team.
Williams, the only Formula One team currently run by a woman, said in a statement that the Briton would be ‘fully immersed’ into the team with a busy simulator programme.
She will also attend three European races, starting at the British Grand Prix in July.
Chadwick won the inaugural W Series race at Germany’s Hockenheim circuit this month and finished second in Zolder, Belgium, at the weekend. She started both rounds on pole position.
Canadian Nicholas Latifi is the official reserve driver for the former champions, who are struggling in last place in the standings.
“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,” said deputy principal and acting team boss Clare Williams.
“We hope to show that motorsport is inclusive and exciting, be that as a driver or on the engineering side.”
Chadwick last year became the first woman to win a British Formula Three race and in February won India’s MRF Winter Series. In 2015 she was the first woman to win a British GT championship.
A spokesman for the six-round W Series, which uses identical Formula Three cars and aims to help women up the motorsport ladder with Formula One the ultimate goal, congratulated her.
“It’s always been part of (W Series) strategy that our successful drivers would be able to leverage their successes with us to further their careers in a way they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” he said. “It’s happening.”
No woman has started a Formula One race since 1976, but Williams employed Susie Wolff as a development and test driver from 2012 to 2015, with the Scot taking part in some Friday practice sessions at grands prix.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Nick Mulvenney)