Weekend of Ups and Downs for Hawkey
Weekend of Ups and Downs for Hawkey

Esmee Hawkey produced a strong performance on her single-seater debut in the W Series at Hockenheim last weekend, running comfortably in the top-ten before a late-race spin ultimately meant a 12th-place finish.With a worldwide audience watching on for the historic first-ever contest of the all-female series, the Kent-based racer, despite missing the only dry session of the weekend before the 30-minute race, showed why she earned her place on the grid with a strong showing amongst more experienced single-seater drivers.

With clutch problems denying her a chance to get on track in the first practice period, Esmee did well to finish a wet second session in 11th position and carried that form over to qualifying, also in damp conditions, improving further to start the race in ninth place.

Getting off the line well, she avoided first-lap dramas which befell other drivers, and after a Safety Car period, settled down to run comfortably in seventh position. In the latter stages she was caught and ultimately passed by Miki Koyama – the fastest driver on track – but kept on her tail.

Pushing in the final laps with the hope of regaining the place, Esmee went into a corner just a little too quickly and spun the car, recovering in 12th place but sadly too late to be able to regain any ground before the chequered flag.

Despite the disappointment of not scoring championship points, it was an impressive performance in an unfamiliar car and on an unfamiliar circuit and leaves her with positivity ahead of the next round of the series at Zolder, in Belgium, in less than two weeks’ time.

Speaking after the weekend, Hawkey said: “It was absolutely amazing and a bit surreal to sit on the grid for the first W Series race and my first Formula 3 event. On the sim I loved Hockenheim, but I loved it even more when I got there. The weekend as a whole was great, though there were some ups and downs.

“In FP1 I didn’t manage to get out and as the weather was changeable, I missed learning the track in the dry. When I got out for FP2 the track was wet which was my first time in the car in those conditions, so I had lots to learn. The car moves around a lot, but it was fun and a good experience. Qualifying was also wet but I gained more places from where I was in FP2.

“The race was my first time on the track in dry conditions, so I had to learn the lines while the other 17 girls had already driven it in that state. I had a good start and made some good overtakes and was running in seventh for most of the race before Miki caught me, so I was comfortable in eighth and had a five-second gap behind me.

“I should have finished there but on the penultimate lap I was pushing a bit too hard and went too hot into a corner and spun. The other drivers could make those mistakes in FP1, but I didn’t know where the limits were as I was trying to catch Miki and maybe have a chance to pass on the final lap. I was very frustrated with myself because you need points, but overall, I was happy with my performance and it looks positive for the rest of the year.

“I haven’t done any preparation for Zolder yet, but on the Sunday W Series had five simulators for us to use so I had a 40-minute slot to learn the circuit a bit. It is difficult because sims aren’t that realistic, but you get a feel for where the track goes, and it looks like tricky with a mix of fast and slow corners. It will be interesting, but I am excited to get there and continue to show what I can do.”