Thursday, 10 January 2013

Alice Powell

Alice Powell graduated to full-size cars in 2007, at the age of fourteen. This came after a successful karting career, which began when she was six, and she was competing at eight. She won her club’s championship in her first year of competition, then went on to top-ten performances in BRDC Stars of Tomorrow and JICA competition.
Alice was one of the second wave of young drivers to take advantage of the rise in junior full-circuit racing. She contested the Ginetta Juniors Winter Series early on, driving a Ginetta G20, and was joint fifth after three races. Later, she drove in the last few rounds of the main Ginetta Junior championship, and was 16th overall. This was in addition to two karting series.
She returned to Ginetta competition in 2008, for the main season, leaving karts behind. Her best finishes were two seconds, at Knockhill and Silverstone, plus two thirds and a string of top tens: 16 out of her 24 races finished in the top ten. She was ninth in the championship.
In 2009 she switched to single-seaters, beginning in the UK Formula Renault championship. Her team was the experienced Manor Competition. However, Alice had not had the budget for much testing. Despite a slow beginning, she was breaking into the top ten by round five, with a ninth place at Donington. Gradually, her pace increased, although her good straight-line speed did not always turn into good race positions. After a disappointing off at Snetterton from seventh place, she only made slow progress up the leaderboard, with an eleventh at Brands Hatch being her next-best score. She was 18th overall.
In the middle of her Formula Renault programme, she made a guest appearance in the Brands Hatch Formula Palmer Audi round. Her three races gave her a seventh, ninth and eleventh place. 
She moved down to the BARC Formula Renault championship in 2010, a club-level series. Here, she became the first female driver to win a Formula Renault championship, after winning two races, at Silverstone and Thruxton. She also scored five second places, and was never out of the top ten. BARC Formula Renault was interspersed with a part-season in the Ginetta G50 Cup. Her best finish was fifth, at Brands Hatch, with two sevenths at Croft, and eighths at Brands and Rockingham, her other highlights. She was 16th overall.
At the end of the year, she drove in the Formula Renault Winter Series, having secured some funds for testing. Although this went well, Alice did not have the pace to challenge for the top positions. Her results were a seventh, and eighth, a ninth and a tenth, with two DNFs at Pembrey. She was twelfth overall. 
In 2011, she raced in Formula Renault once more, running mainly in the British championship, and entering two North Europe series events. In Britain, she was much stronger than in 2009, finishing seventh in her first race at Brands Hatch. At Donington, she broke into the top five for the first time. Her best finish was fourth, at Snetterton, and she was rarely out of the top ten. The only thing she did not get was podium finishes, and she was ninth overall. In the NEZ championship, she was eighth and tenth in her two races at Oschersleben.
As well as this, she travelled to India for the two-round MRF Formula 1600 championship, supporting the Indian Grand Prix, and was second after two podiums, a second and a third. She also had guest runs in the BARC Production Touring Car Trophy (Class B) and Radical Clubmans Cup, which resulted in a clean sweep of wins. She was driving a Fiat 500 Abarth in the Trophy. A further guest appearance in the Intersteps championship gave her one eighth place at Donington. During this year, she was selected for the BRDC’s Rising Star driver development programme, and won the BWRDC’s Gold Star Elite award.
In 2012, despite many accolades and considerable media attention, she struggled for sponsorship. At the last minute, she put together a deal for the GP3 international single-seater series. After only two days of testing, it proved a difficult learning curve: her first race ended in a DNF, then she was just out of the top ten at Catalunya and Monte Carlo. The rest of the year was punctuated by DNFs. It picked up slightly at Spa and Monza, where she was twelfth. However, by the end of the season, she had managed her first points finish: eighth at Monza. She was 19th overall.
After that, she went back to India for some rounds of the MRF Formula 2000 series. She scored a second and third at Buddh, and was fifth overall. 
In 2013, she planned to contest the GP3 championship again, although funding was an issue, and she only put together a deal at the last minute. She only actually managed two rounds of GP3, driving for Bamboo Engineering, alongside Carmen Jordá. Her results were two 20th places at Yas Marina.

The rest of the year was spent in Formula Three, mostly in the UK. This was somewhat of a step down for Alice again, but she took the opportunity and it paid off. Driving for Mark Bailey Racing, she was second in the MSV F3 Cup, with five wins, at Brands Hatch, Zolder, Silverstone and Oulton Park. Apart from a pair of DNFs at Snetterton, she was never out of the top five, and usually in the top three. She led the championship for much of the season, but a strong finish from Alex Craven caught her up. The non-finishes allowed this.

As well as the F3 Cup, she took part in three rounds of British Formula Three, winning her class twice.

There was more F3 for Alice in 2014. She made a guest appearance in the Rockingham round of the British championship, and was fifth and third in the two races she finished. At Rockingham, she also posted two class wins in the MSV series, as well as two class seconds, at Snetterton. However, most of her season was spent in Southeast Asia, contesting the Asian Formula Renault championship. This was an excellent season, with five wins, recorded at Zhuhai and Shanghai. Apart from one non-finish and one fifth place, both at Zhuhai, she was never off the podium, and she won the championship from Canadian Maxx Ebenal. 

Before her championship win was confirmed, Alice had some other excitement. Her grandfather attempted to broker a deal with the foundering Caterham Grand Prix team, in which he would effectively pay for a race seat for Alice in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This would allow the team, then in administration, to complete the season. The deal did not go through, partly due to Alice not having a Superlicence, and no easy way of achieving one, in the short timescale available. 
2015 was a much quieter year. Mid-season, she took part in her first sportscar race, the Silverstone 24 Hours. Her car was a works Aston Martin Vantage GT4, shared with Marek Reihman, Andrew Palmer and Andrew Frankel. They were fourth in Class 3, and fifth overall. During the winter season, she went back to the Middle East for another run in the MRF Formula, racing at the Yas Marina circuit. Her best finish was eighth.

As well as racing, Alice has been a vocal advocate for women in motorsports, and is part of a new initiative begun by Susie Wolff, encouraging greater female participation.

Lack of finances has limited her opportunities since the start of 2016.

At the end of 2018, she returned to the driving seat as a guest racer in the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, which supports Formula E. She won the Pro-Am class and was fifth overall at ad-Diriyah, having showed her skill with some aggressive overtaking.

(Picture by Daniel Kalisz, copyright GP3 Media Service)

No comments:

Post a Comment