LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Jamie Chadwick will seek to defend her crown when the all-female W Series returns for a second season next year as a support act to Formula One, organisers said on Thursday.
The single-seater series, which uses identical Formula Three cars and whose eight races will accompany selected grands prix in Europe and North America, published an initial list of 18 drivers from 12 countries.
Chadwick, 22, who won the inaugural six-race series in 2019, topped the list ahead of Dutch runner-up Beitske Visser and third placed Briton Alice Powell.
There was no championship this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chadwick's participation in 2021 had been in some doubt after she signed up with the Veloce team for the new electric off-road Extreme E series that is due to start next year.
She made clear that defending her women's title was a priority, however.
"People are most aware of me because of W Series and the last two years have been a life-changing whirlwind," she said in a statement.
"Winning the inaugural W Series Championship in 2019 was the biggest stepping stone in my career, providing me with so many amazing opportunities."
Chadwick, who banked $500,000 in prize money for winning the title, has also been a development driver for the Williams F1 team, a role she hopes to continue in 2021.
The W Series next year offers points towards the mandatory F1 super licence and Chadwick said she was determined to earn as many as possible to take her a step closer to competing in Formula One.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)