Since it was announced as an F1 support series in November 2020, fans worldwide have been excited to see what W Series can add to the F1 weekends. With 8 races taking place throughout the F1 calendar this year, let’s look at what we can expect from this new racing series.
What is W Series?
W Series, an all-female single-seater championship featuring the most talented female drivers in motor racing. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the series hugely, with only one season taking place so far. Having only been announced in late 2018, the 2019 season, won by Jamie Chadwick, left us all with a lot of anticipation and excitement about the future of women in motor racing.
So, how does it work?
In addition to two reserves, eighteen talented female drivers compete in a series of races throughout the year. The top eight from each race are awarded points, using a scoring system of 15-12-10-7-5-3-2-1. The driver with the most points throughout the season, minus any penalty points, becomes the champion at the end of the season. This is a simple system in motorsport that we can all understand and many will recognise. This is why it is such a welcome addition to the F1 weekend for 8 races during 2021.
The drivers (in 2019 championship order):
Jamie Chadwick (UK) – Age: 22
Beitske Visser (HOLLAND) – Age: 26
Alice Powell (UK) – Age: 28
Marta García (SPAIN) – Age: 20
Emma Kimilainen (FINLAND) – Age: 31
Fabienne Wohlwend (LIECHTENSTEIN)- Age: 23
Miki Koyama (JAPAN) – Age: 23
Sarah Moore (UK) – Age: 27
Vicky Piria (ITALY) – Age: 27
Tasmin Pepper (SOUTH AFRICA) – Age: 30
Jessica Hawkins (UK) – Age: 26
Sabré Cook (USA) 26
New to W Series:
Belen García (SPAIN) – Age: 21
Ayla Agren (NORWAY) – Age: 27
Abbie Eaton (UK) – Age: 29
Nerea Martí (SPAIN) – Age: 19
Irina Sidorkova (RUSSIA) – Age: 17
Bruna Tomaselli (BRAZIL) – Age: 23
Is W Series a good idea?
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the W Series and whether it will benefit female motorsport more widely in the future. Many believe that it segregates women from men by not allowing them to compete on the same stage as men, which Extreme E is trying to change (link). While there is some truth to this statement, having a platform for women to show their talents can only be a positive step forward towards inclusivity on the track. As many of these women are lesser-known drivers are, being able to showcase their talents during an F1 weekend is very important. It is a recognised fact that no driver reaches the pinnacle of the sport without any sponsorship and financial help.
These women are more likely to be offered sponsorships due to being showcased during a Formula 1 weekend. But W Series also awards a top prize of $500,000 to the champion, with the remaining $1 million is divided amongst the rest of the drivers. This allows all of the women competing to fight for the top step with the knowledge that this money could help them further their careers. With many young women competing in the W Series, their chances and the chances of future generations of female drivers can be drastically affected by this. Money will continue to play an inexplicably important role in deciding who competes at the highest level of motorsport.
The Formula 1 ‘We Race as One’ initiative and the hope to improve equality in the sport being strongly focused on throughout the 2021 calendar. Being able to showcase such a wide array of talented women, alongside the many talented men we are so aware of already, is a hugely positive step. Not only will this showcase women on track but also off the track, in more managerial roles. This will inspire a new generation of girls to combine their love of motorsport with any job they may want to do in the future. Being able to inspire a more diverse future for the sport is at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, and W Series is very likely to help this.
26/27 June – Le Castellet, France
3/4 July – Spielberg, Austria
16/17 July – Silverstone, UK
31 July / 01 August – Budapest, Hungary
28/29 August – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
4/5 September – Zandvoort, Netherlands
23/24 October – Austin, USA
30/31 October – Mexico City, Mexico
With all of that explained, I’m sure you’ll join me in being very excited to see it during the Formula 1 weekends throughout the summer. With such an array of talented drivers worldwide to support and following a whole year without the series, you won’t want to miss a single race.