Jamie Chadwick is the current W Series champion and development driver for the Williams Formula 1 team – the 21-year-old talks to BBC Sport about the highs and lows of trying to get on the F1 grid in what is a crucial year for her career
I am slowly but surely getting used to life in lockdown.
This is definitely the longest I’ve been at home and in my own bed for a long time. It’s definitely an unfamiliar feeling not having to pack my bags to go to the airport each week but I am starting to enjoy it. I just keep focusing on the things I can focus on and doing the best I can do under the circumstances.
The one thing I would normally struggle with is not having a routine so that has been a priority for me – making sure every day I wake up with a focus and a purpose. A lot of that for me has been revolving around my physical training and I’ve more or less already converted my little flat into a gym.
I have upped the training quite a bit so that when we eventually go racing I will be in the best shape possible. It is obviously not ideal, and a lot of my training has always involved doing lots of different activities outdoors, but between my trainer and I it has actually been great because we have been able to be really creative with what I am doing. It is different but almost enjoyable having to think of things outside the box.
I’ve also got my bike set up on an indoor trainer and I’ve been able to go out on isolated runs too. I was able to do a charity half-marathon with the British Racing Drivers’ Club where we raised over £30,000 in aid of the NHS, and I did my first ever 100-mile bike ride indoors to raise money for charity. It’s great to be able to set myself these goals whilst raising money for such important causes.
In terms of everyone I am racing against, we’re all in the same situation – it is not like I am stuck at home and everyone else is out and about, so it is now that I feel I can make a bigger difference by doing that little bit more or doing things that bit differently. It’s actually quite an exciting opportunity when I think of it like that.
Video chats with family and binging box sets
Like many people during lockdown, Jamie Chadwick was enthralled by the bizarre Netflix documentary Tiger King
I think I am more sociable now than I’ve ever been. With platforms such as Zoom, Houseparty and Facetime I feel like I am talking to people more than I ever did before. There really is a feeling that everyone is in this together even if we are socially distant from each other. In this aspect I think maybe when we come out of this, life will be different in a positive way.
I have not been home this long for a long time so there are also lots of little household jobs that I’d been putting off that I am now getting round to doing, but relaxing mentally is also important so I have been binging quite a lot of TV shows.
I joined the craze and watched Tiger King which I’m still completely baffled by, and I’m not ashamed to say that I got through the new BBC Drama, The Nest, in just one day. I’ve also been listening to a lot of podcasts, and I’m especially enjoying Table Manners, The High Low and Give Me Strength.
In addition to this I’ve found myself getting quite creative in the kitchen and cooking a lot more. Doing what I do, quite a lot of my meals would be provided and, while I did cook before, all three meals every day is something I haven’t been used to. I really like making fresh food where I know exactly what I’m putting into my body. I have been watching a lot of cooking programmes on YouTube to help me on this culinary journey, and Jamie Oliver has given me some great recipes, as has the Bon Appetite channel.
I did make a Sunday roast for myself, which was a bit sad as normally we have a big group of us together for Sunday lunch. But it was still worth the effort even if it was just me devouring the beef and roast potatoes. I do eat very well for six days a week, but a good old gravy dinner is something I could never give up – fortunately my trainer has given me that.
“Get me BANANA CAKE!”
Missing cycling – and the coffee and cake
I do enjoy being able to have coffee and cake. It must be a cycling thing and maybe that is what drew me to it – you cycle somewhere, you burn a 1,000 calories and you can eat guilt-free. Someone once likened it to burning a five-pound note but I am a big believer of everything in moderation.
I find cycling is a really nice social thing. I usually go out with a couple of other racing drivers, my trainer and a few others and it is a really nice way to let off a bit of steam and train as well – the coffee stops are always a bit of a highlight for me.
Fortunately I have a coffee machine set up in my flat and also some very generous friends who have been delivering baked goods to my door, so I am happy in that sense otherwise this would be an even more difficult experience.
My go-to coffee is a flat white although sometimes if I am a bit tired I will have an espresso shot. And cake? That’s an impossible question! Although when I am on a bike ride I do like a banana cake. That’s probably a good thing because everyone seems to be cooking those during lockdown.
A sim set-up to rival Lando Norris? Getting into esports
Lando Norris with his racing simulator set-up at home
I am in the process of developing a basic sim set-up. I have a few more bits that I’ve got since I last took part so I am keen to get involved again. It is good fun. We are really lucky as racing drivers because we get a bit more of an opportunity to keep sharp by getting involved in esports and it is fun to watch also.
My set-up It is not quite on the Lando Norris scale but it is getting there. The good thing is that to be competitive on the game you don’t need the most expensive or sophisticated set-up. You can still have an entry-level set-up and be competitive and I find that is quite nice because it makes it accessible for everybody – not just racing drivers but also other sports people and anyone at home really.
Planning for racing as normal – for now
Jamie Chadwick won the inaugural W Series last year
Everyone is in the same position so you have to take the punches I guess. I am glad I am not an Olympic athlete where they train in four-year cycles for example. I had a good year last year and a really productive winter, so for me it is just maintaining the momentum and confidence and improving myself where I can so that when we do get back racing I am as ready as I can be.
The difficulty for everyone is the uncertainty of how long this may last and not having a date set in stone of when I may be able to get back into a race car. W Series is yet to reschedule or be postponed. We are still waiting for clarification on that and you never know what may happen. I just have to treat it as if we are going racing at the end of May and focus on that – however likely or unlikely that may be.
Getting two W Series races on the F1 calendar has the potential to be so exciting and those are the two races I am really looking forward to if we are able to get racing again.
Chadwick was speaking to BBC Sport’s Gary Rose