Say a big hello to W Series, an all-new single-seater race series exclusively for women. Whether the W stands for ‘women’ or ‘woke’ we’re not quite sure, but it’s designed to lead us to a point where there’s a far greater gender balance in motorsport.
“At the heart of W Series’s DNA is the firm belief that women can compete equally with men in motorsport,” says the official bumf. “However, an all-female series is essential in order to force greater female participation.”
It is important to not that there is also the argument that a separate series has the potential to segregate women away from mainstream motorsport even further. The idea is that W Series trains its 18 to 20 racers up to a level that allows them to complete in other existing, top-flight race series.
It’s free to enter, and its score of competitors will be selected via lots of on-track auditions, simulator tests and fitness appraisals. On top of that, they then go through a “thorough training programme”, with big names like Adrian Newey and David Coulthard tutoring them along the way.
“At the moment, women racing drivers tend to reach a ‘glass ceiling’ at around the GP3/Formula 3 level on their learning curve, often as a result of a lack of funding rather than a lack of talent,” says Coulthard.
“That’s why an all-new all-female single-seater motor racing series is required to establish a competitive and constructive motorsport habitat, in which our drivers will be able to equip themselves with the necessary skill-set eventually to move on up to existing high-level mainstream racing series and compete with the best male drivers on equal terms.”
Note that, the first W Series car is a Formula 3 car. The first season will begin in spring 2019 and will visit “some of the best and most famous circuits in Europe, most of which have staged Formula 1 races for many decades,” although these are still yet to be named. Future seasons will spread out to America and Asia. The prize fund for the first season is $1.5 million (just over £1m).
Your thoughts, then. Is this a long-overdue move to make Formula 1, WEC and rallying more inclusive? Or does a separate, women-only series only serve to reinforce the current male dominance of motorsport more? We’d love to know what you think.