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Is The W Series A Good Idea?

  • by: Conor McKeon
  • On: 11, Oct 2018
3 min read

News that Formula One is set to start a new women-only racing championship in 2019 has received mixed reviews. The race will feature 20 of the world’s top female racers competing for a £1.15million prize. Organisers aim to stage six 30-minute races at top circuits around Europe, most of which are past Formula One venues, with identical 1.8 litre Formula Three cars.

What is the W Series?

The series is being funded by the Scottish businessman Sean Wadsworth, who ran a recruitment business until 2016. With the motorsport industry competitive and otherwise financially difficult to sustain, the W Series believes it has lasting backing.

No female racing driver has started in a Formula One Grand Prix for 42 years. More than 900 drivers have competed since the championship began in 1950 but only two have been women. This alone demands attention, and many feel the W Series is a step in the right direction to greater equality.

Will The W Series Promote Equality in Motorsport?

Pippa Mann, one of GB’s best IndyCar racers has called the new initiative ‘a backwards step.’ She would prefer to see women racers encouraged and financially supported in already existing competitions, elevating them to equal status. Segregating female racing drivers highlights the perceived disparity between men and women in motorsport.

The pros and cons were weighed up by Michele Mouton, a world rally winner in the 1980s.

Speaking as president of the FIA's Women in Motorsport Commission, Mouton said:

'While this new series is obviously giving an opportunity for women to showcase their talent in a female-only environment, our objective is to have more of them competing alongside men and demonstrating the same ability and potential to succeed in top-level FIA championships.'

British F3 race winner and 2015 British GT4 champion Jamie Chadwick said: ‘the W Series is giving female drivers another platform to go racing.’        

Women in Motorsport: The Reality for Current Female Racing Drivers

The W Series plan sees winners progressing through to F1 level, but this leaves many questioning why female racing drivers aren’t there already. Desiré Wilson became the only woman to win a Formula One race of any kind when she won at Brands Hatch in the British Aurora F1 championship on 7 April 1980. Fans of the sport are crying out for more women to participate, but some say this feels like a strange way to go about it.

Women racers have proven they’re more than capable of winning on more than one occasion. Ana Carrasco won the World supersport 300 Championship and Jamie Chadwick won the 2015 British GT4 title and has since gone on to be the first female race winner in British Formula 3.

How to Get More Women into Motorsport

One solution to getting more women into Motorsport lies in encouraging more women to enter the sport at amateur level. This will mean more women at every stage of the racing pyramid, until eventually more female racing drivers make it through to the top tier of Formula One.

Part of the reason why there are currently so few at top tier level is that women are less likely to secure financial backing in the jump up from Formula 3 to Formula 2. With sustained investment and interest, the series will hopefully succeed in its goal of getting more women into Motorsport.

Read about 2018’s Best Formula One Moments, learn about Grand Prix history, or read about what it’s like to work in formula One.

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