Reigning W Series champion Jamie Chadwick will return to the all-female championship to defend her title during the 2020 season.

The Williams Formula 1 development driver, who won the inaugural W Series title after picking up two victories across the six-round championship in 2018, is among 12 drivers to return to the series for 2020.

Runner-up Beitske Visser also returns for a second year in W Series, while the rest of the top 12 finishes have automatically qualified, as per the championship’s regulations.

They include third-place finisher Alice Powell, race-winners Marta Garcia and Emma Kimilainen, one-time polesitter Fabienne Wohlwend, Japan’s Miki Koyama, Sarah Moore, Vicky Piria, Tasmin Pepper, Jessica Hawkins and American Sabre Cook, who was the 12th and final driver to automatically qualify.

Following a three-day evaluation test at Almeria, six new drivers have also been confirmed for the championship’s second campaign.

British GT and sportscar racer Abbie Eaton is among the new entrants, along with Norwegian Ayla Agren, Spanish duo Belen Garcia and Nerea Marti, Brazil’s Bruna Tomaselli and 16-year-old Russian driver Irina Sidorkova.

W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir revealed over 40 drivers applied for the six available seats on the 2020 grid.

“More than 40 new drivers applied to race with us in 2020 and, after a three-day on-track test at Almeria [southern Spain] last month, and a rigorous lap-time and data-analysis programme thereafter, we’re now able to announce the first 18 of the 20 drivers who’ll compete in the 2020 W Series championship,” Bond Muir said.

“It’s an impressive list, including the top 12 from our 2019 season, and six new drivers, who all performed well at Almeria.

“The result is a varied and international group, comprising 18 drivers from 12 countries, ranging in age from the super-experienced Finn, Emma Kimilainen, 30, to the very promising young Russian, Irina Sidorkova, 16.

“Our commiserations go to those whom we haven’t selected, but sadly their disappointment is simply an example of the jeopardy inherent in any athlete’s life at the higher levels of competitive sport. The more you can win, the more you can lose.”