The W Series, established as the premier all-female driving championship on the planet, has finally been given the green light to return.
After a successful inaugural campaign in 2019, the following season was wiped out in 2020 without a single race being held.
But organisers have finally been allowed to plan the return of the W Series, and they have wasted no time in getting the show back on the road.
As such, the maiden race of the season will be held at Red Bull’s track at Spielberg, Austria this weekend – enjoying the same bill as the Styrian Grand Prix.
From there, seven more dates for the W Series 2021 have been revealed, all of which will be broadcast live on Channel 4:
- July 2-3 – Austria (Spileberg)
- July 16-17 – England (Silverstone)
- July 30-31 – Hungary (Budapest)
- August 27-28 – Belgium (Spa)
- September 3-4 – Netherlands (Zandvoort)
- October 22-23 – USA (Austin)
- October 29-30 – Mexico (Mexico City)
The W Series will share the stage with the F1 Grand Prix races held at the same venue and on the same weekend – a major breakthrough in increasing the visibility of this exciting competition.
What is the W Series?
Designed to give women more of an opportunity in motor racing, be it inside the cockpit or behind the scenes, the W Series has been lauded as a landmark competition for the sport.
Its stated ambition is to act as the platform via which a female driver can progress to F1 – given the great strides that women have made in other sports, it’s a surprise to note that its been 45 years since Lella Lombardi competed at the Austrian Grand Prix, which was the last time a woman took to the track in Formula One.
The hope is that the W Series will act as a necessary ceiling-smasher, and Jamie Chadwick – who was so impressive in winning the inaugural drivers’ title – has already signed development terms with the Williams team.
Indeed, the scenes that met Chadwick’s season-ending win at Brands Hatch in 2019 were revelatory – scores of girls and women made their way down to trackside to congratulate the champion.
And that was not lost on Catherine Bond Muir, the chief executive of the W Series. She said:
“We created a bit of magic there. We had huge numbers fully engaged with us, looking at our drivers as though they were superstars, a huge amount of love and support.
“W Series isn’t just about getting women on to the grid, but about women being more visible in all parts of motor sport.”
The races are contested in standard F3 cars, and while it is essentially an amateur endeavour for now all of the costs for those involved are met by their respective teams. There’s a full track of 18 cars per race, and the influence of being part of the F1 weekend – and the publicity that will bring – should prove invaluable.
Chadwick, the standout star of the competition so far, is the driver that most believe will make the step up to the Formula One ranks first.
“There is still a long way to go in terms of the perception of women in motor sport,” she said. “A lot of people still seem surprised that women actually compete in motor sport, and W Series is a whole new concept to a lot of people.
“What I found most interesting from 2019 was that the audience was very much a women’s sport audience. Not just motor sport fans, it was just a new sport for them to watch. That’s what’s really exciting, W Series is trying to appeal to a global audience across all sports.”