A new women-only motor sport championship will launch next year with the aim of growing participation and to “find female Formula 1 stars” of the future, The Guardian reports.
Called the ‘W Series’, the championship will see 18-20 female drivers compete in single-seater cars. It is planned to launch in spring 2019 and races will be held at a number of famous circuits in Europe.
In a statement the W Series organisers said: “At the heart of W Series’ DNA is the firm belief that women can compete equally with men in motorsport.
“However, an all-female series is essential in order to force greater female participation. W Series is therefore a mission-driven competition, the aim of which is not only to provide exciting racing for spectators and viewers on a global scale, but also to equip its drivers with the experience and expertise with which they may progress their careers, racing and honing their skills in W Series before eventually graduating to existing high-level mainstream racing series.”
Where will races be held?
Starting in spring 2019, races in the W Series debut season will take place across circuits in Europe. The organisers said: “The inaugural W Series season will encompass a number of races run on some of the best and most famous circuits in Europe, most of which have staged Formula 1 races for many decades.” Future seasons will see races scheduled in America, Asia and Australia.
The series will be free-to-enter for all female drivers and there is a prize fund of $1.5m (£1.15m). Out of the overall prize fund the series champion will win $500,000 (£380,000) and there will be prize money awarded all the way down the final standings.
After a rigorous pre-selection process – involving on-track testing, simulator appraisal, technical engineering tests and fitness trials – 18-20 successful applicants will compete in the inaugural W Series.
W Series will be raced using identical Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 cars. The cars will fitted with the Halo safety device and will be powered by Autotecnica Motori inline four-cylinder 1.8-litre turbocharged engines, using Sadev six-speed sequential gearboxes.
Who is backing the W Series?
A group of experts with decades of Formula 1 experience will help oversee the selection process and training of the drivers. Experts include former F1 driver David Coulthard; F1 design engineering guru Adrian Newey; former McLaren F1 sporting director Dave Ryan; and F1 media expert Matt Bishop.
What the experts say
David Coulthard: “In order to be a successful racing driver, you have to be skilled, determined, competitive, brave and physically fit, but you don’t have to possess the kind of super-powerful strength levels that some sports require. You also don’t have to be a man. That’s why we at W Series firmly believe that female and male racing drivers can compete with one another on equal terms given the same opportunity.”
Adrian Newey: “Having worked in international motor sport for more than 30 years, and having watched at very close quarters some of the greatest racing drivers of all time – including a number of Formula 1 world champions – I have a reasonable understanding of the constituents of a top-class driver’s necessary skill-set. With proper training women are physically strong enough to tick that constituent. The reason why so few women have so far raced successfully at the highest levels against men may, however, be a lack of opportunity rather than a lack of capability.”
Reactions from motor sport fans
While many people praised the W Series for giving the opportunity for females to race in motor sport, others were not happy that women and men were being segregated. We look at the reactions from Twitter…