Alice Powell made the perfect start to the 2021 W Series season by taking the first pole position of her W Series career for the opening round in Austria. The 28-year-old continued where she left off 685 days ago — when she won the last race of W Series’ inaugural season at Brands Hatch in August 2019 to ssecure third place in the championship — with a flawless display on Friday at the Red Bull Ring, where she topped both the practice and qualifying sessions for her Racing X team.
“It’s been a crazy and very long build-up to this first race after winning the last race of 2019 at Brands Hatch,” admitted Powell. “I’ve been working so hard to make sure I was ready on the fitness side and the mental side, and I hope I can keep that up tomorrow and finish first again.
“I knew there was a chance of rain during qualifying, so the plan was to do 10 minutes on the old tires before coming in for fresh ones, but we shortened that by five minutes as I knew it was going to take more time to get the tires working and I didn’t want to rush that process. We got there in the end, and I was really consistent. Now I need to make sure I do the same again tomorrow.”
Powell will be joined on the front row for Saturday’s race — which supports Formula 1’s Styrian Grand Prix — by fellow Briton Sarah Moore, who was less than two tenths of a second adrift of her compatriot. Belen Garcia made an impressive start to her W Series career by taking third, and the Spanish rookie will line up on the second row alongside 2019 runner-up Beitske Visser.
Defending W Series champion Jamie Chadwick was eighth fastest, although series director Dave Ryan said that the British driver had encountered “a bit of an issue, which we will be looking at tonight” with her Tatuus F3 spec car. Fabienne Wohlwend and rookie Ayla Agren completed the top 10, who were separated by less than half a second at the end of a fiercely competitive qualifying session in which five different drivers topped the timing screens during a frantic 30 minutes of action.
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 25, 2021