Inspirational, Interview, Women In Motorsport

Jessica Hawkins: “I really have a genuine passion for helping females within motorsport.”

Earlier this month, I was incredibly honoured to get the opportunity to speak to Jessica Hawkins. Best known for her role as a W Series driver and Aston Martin Formula 1 Team Driver Ambassador, Jessica is an inspiration to many, including myself. Throughout our interview, her passion for racing and vast experiences shone clear. Enjoy! 🙂

While much of Jessica’s popularity amongst fans of motorsport began with W Series, her journey began long before. She ​started racing in British Formula Ford in 2014 and continued through other series until 2017, when a lack of finances ​meant she had to stop. This was the point in time that Jessica turned to stunt driving. In 2018, she began work for ​’Fast and Furious Live,​’ admitting to me that she was rather underqualified for the role but adapted quickly to the new skill set.

“Whilst it was frustrating that I wasn’t able to continue racing at the time, because of a lack of budget, that forced me into finding other routes. It actually turned into an amazing thing. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and opened up a whole new level of my career that I never knew that I would have. So, yes, what was frustrating at the time turned out to be really great.”

Curious to know more, I asked whether she knew of many other drivers who both raced and did stunt work. The answer was that both are simply so time-consuming that it’s challenging to juggle it all.

Jessica Hawkins James Bond Aston MArtin | image source

The following year, Jessica was announced as one of the 2019 W Series drivers – a massive (but well-deserved) honour. She described being told she had been selected to be a driver ​as a favourite experience in the W Series.

“Another incredible feeling was making it through to the following year. As well as the first time I drove the W Series cars. That was absolutely amazing. And then the first race on the Formula 1 package was insane. There are so many good memories, too many to list.”

I remember the first time I heard of the W Series’s concept very well, as I wasn’t initially a fan. I’ve written about this before, in my interview with Lee McKenzie, but I felt almost as if it was a step backwards instead of a progressive concept. My views could not be further from that now, heavily influenced by research I’ve conducted and how much it has benefitted the racers involved. The series’ positive impact is one I spoke to Jessica about, conveying how it really boosted my motivation with On The Pit Wall.

She seemed enthusiastic at my words, passionately responding, “Evie, honestly, that’s really lovely to hear, because I really have a genuine passion for helping females within motorsport.” It could not have been clearer how authentic that statement was.

When asked whether she had seen an increase in girls karting (or even just in their motivation), Jessica’s “definitely” was emphatic.

“I think not only is ​the W Series a big driving force, I think Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team have as well. They’re creating more visible roles within motorsport for females, which is great. That’s what we need, we need figureheads within the sport so that women know that it’s something that they’re able to do. Obviously, not every female is going to be interested in motorsport, just as every man or woman or indeed person isn’t interested in everything. But I certainly think that if more women were able to give it a go and maybe see whether it’s a career path for them, then we’d definitely start to see more females in motorsport which is great.”

I think I can safely assume that Jessica’s thoughts reflect the mindset of both the W Series and that of Aston Martin in that women need to be given equal chances as men in motorsport. For further reading on women in motorsport and my beliefs on why there hasn’t been a female F1 driver, please head to my article, ‘Where are the female F1 drivers?’ Sorry, had to plug it. 😅

Unfortunately, the ​2020 season of the W Series was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but a new opportunity was on the brink for Jessica. In 2021, she began stunt work for the James Bond film ‘No Time to Die’.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life. When I was a little girl, I never thought I’d be working on a Bond movie.”

Aston Martin anuncia Jessica Hawkins como nova embaixadora ...
Jessica Hawkins. Credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team

Yet 2021 had more in store for Jessica. May 19th bore the news of her role as Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team’s driver ambassador. As driver ambassador, Jessica spends a lot of time with sponsors, and completing media and marketing work, along with attending races with the team and learning as much as she can from the team’s engineers.

“I’ll be starting on the Aston Martin F1 sim at the Silverstone factory soon, too. That’s a big step forward for me, my role growing.”

“The team really did welcome me with open arms and within the first few hours of being at the track with them [at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix], I really, really felt like I was part of the team. Obviously it was a very proud moment for me because I can count on one hand the amount of drivers to sign for Formula 1 team per year. I was one of them. That was an incredible feeling.”

The final question of the interview was, “Where do you hope to see yourself achievement-wise in the next few years?”

For Jessica, that’s “doing some really cool driving scenes and some cool movies, racing wherever I get the chance and growing my relationship with Aston Martin”.

Thank you so much to Jessica for her time and kind words. Big thank you to Matt Bishop and Will Hings at Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team for helping to get the interview arranged.

Jessica is the first driver I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with, and it developed my thoughts on racing in a completely different way. It’s definitely a unique mindset, a way of thinking that comes with being a racing driver, for which I have nothing but respect. I’m eager to take this appreciation further into more of my posts and I hope to speak to more drivers soon.

Thank you for reading!

COVER IMAGE CREDIT: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team