Alice Powell (Racing X) produced a stunning lap at the end of a fiercely contested W Series qualifying session to take pole position for her home race at Silverstone.
The 28-year-old Briton claimed her second pole position of the season at the third round with a 1:57.235 to beat Fabienne Wohlwend (Bunker Racing) by almost four tenths of a second. Championship leader Jamie Chadwick (Veloce Racing) will start behind title rival Alice from third on the grid for Saturday's race – which supports Formula 1's British Grand Prix – and Beitske Visser (M. Forbes Motorsport) will be alongside Jamie on the second row.
Emma Kimiläinen (Ecurie W) and Nerea Marti (W Series Academy Team) make up row three, while Sarah Moore (Scuderia W) – who is second in the championship standings – will start seventh. Abbi Pulling (PUMA W Series Team) impressed on her competitive W Series debut to qualify eighth, and the 18-year-old was the only other driver to get within a second of her mentor Alice's pole position time.
On a sunny day at Silverstone, Jamie topped the timing screens after eight minutes of qualifying by which time all 18 drivers had set a flying lap, and Emma was the only other driver to break the 119-second mark at the halfway stage.
Alice posted the fastest time in all three sectors to beat Jamie's mark by half a second with 14 minutes remaining, and she improved on each of her next two laps to lead Beitske by a quarter of a second with a third of the session to go.
Alice shaved another tenth off her best, only for Fabienne to pip her by two thousandths of a second with less than five minutes on the clock. But Alice had the last word three minutes later when she regained top spot by three tenths, and is now perfectly placed to claim her second victory of the season having led from pole to flag at the opening round in Austria last month.
Earlier in the day, this season's two race-winners led the way in practice as Alice pipped Jamie by a tenth of a second. Emma was a further tenth back in third and Sarah – the only other driver to get within half a second of Alice's 1:57.098 – was fourth.
Dave Ryan (Racing Director, W Series) said:
"That was a pretty good session. It was great to see the scrap at the front and for Fabienne [Wohlwend] to be amongst it. Alice [Powell] did a really good job and responded well when Fabienne went quickest by just getting her head down and doing a superb lap. Jamie [Chadwick] is third so all the ingredients are there for a great race tomorrow. We did see a lot of track limit infringements and times deleted today and drivers will be at the mercy of the stewards tomorrow if they continue to do this – that's definitely something they all need to watch. The weather forecast is for another fairly hot day and everything's set for a positive race for the series in front of the Silverstone crowds."
Alice Powell, 28, UK, Racing X, said:
"That was the lap of my life. I didn't expect to have that kind of time because it felt really sketchy out there, full of oversteer, and that's why I was so shocked with the time when I heard. I'm just relieved and happy to be on pole. It was one of those laps I don't think I'll ever be able to produce again, it was incredible to be honest. When I heard that I'd dropped down a position because Fabienne [Wohlwend] had gone quicker I put everything into it and thankfully managed to pull it out of the bag. It's the stuff of dreams to be on pole position at your home race on the British Grand Prix weekend in front of a full house at Silverstone and I can't wait for tomorrow."
Fabienne Wohlwend, 23, Liechtenstein, Bunker Racing, said:
"That was an amazing session. We'd already had a good practice in the morning and we improved the set-up which made me feel really comfortable in the car. It was a great lap and I really improved the few corners where I was struggling a bit in practice. I love Silverstone so much, it's great to be out there in front of so many amazing fans and I'm looking forward to giving them something to cheer about from the front row tomorrow."
Jamie Chadwick, 23, UK, Veloce Racing, said:
"I'm a bit frustrated. I would have loved to have challenged for pole but we just didn't quite have the pace today because of a combination of factors. But we'll figure it out tonight and hopefully be back up there tomorrow because I know there's more time in the car to help me challenge Alice [Powell]. The atmosphere was incredible out there today and there will be even more people here tomorrow so I'm seeing it as a great opportunity to do something special on the big stage."
Qualifying results from round three of the 2021 W Series season are below. For full W Series results and session timings from Silverstone visit https://wseries.com/races/silverstone-round-3/.
British fans can watch the third race of the 2021 W Series season live from Silverstone on Channel 4 from 13.05 on Saturday. The action can also be seen across W Series' digital and social channels, as well as being broadcast in more than 175 territories with a full list available at https://wseries.com/w-hub/watch-w-series-silverstone/.