The W Series was publicly launched on 10 October 2018. Rumours about the creation of a female-only racing series had begun to circulate in November 2017. It was created in response to the lack of female drivers progressing to the highest levels of motorsport, particularly Formula 1.
The calendar for the 2020 W Series was announced in early 2020. The initial drivers' list confirmed that the top twelve finishers from the 2019 championship were automatically qualified for the 2020 series. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a 10-event eSports series was held on the iRacing platform in its place.
The series features eighteen female racers from around the globe, plus two reserve drivers. The drivers were selected through a selection process that began with fifty-four participants.
The W Series championship title is awarded to the competitor with the highest number of points from all qualifying rounds run, excluding any penalty points incurred. If two or more drivers finish the season with the same number of points, the higher place in the series shall be awarded to the driver with the highest number of race wins. If the number of race wins is the same, the championship title shall be awarded according to the number of second-place finishes, third-place finishes and so on.
Points were awarded to the top ten classified finishers as follows:
The W Series features mechanically identical cars. In 2018, it was announced that the inaugural 2019 season would use the Tatuus–Alfa Romeo F3 T-318, homologated by the FIA for use in Formula 3 in Formula Regional European Championship, powered by Autotecnica Motori-tuned Alfa Romeo 1.8-litre turbocharged engines, and equipped with a halo cockpit safety device.
- Chassis construction: Carbon-fibre monocoque
- Engine displacement: 1,750 cc (107 cu in) DOHC inline-4
- Aspiration: Single-turbocharged
- Fuel delivery: Direct fuel injection
- Fuel capacity: 45.5 litres (12 US gallons)
- Fuel: Aral Ultimate 102 RON unleaded
- Weight: 565 kg (1,246 lb)
- Power output: 270 hp (201 kW)
- Width: 1,850 mm (73 in)
- Wheelbase: 2,900 mm (114 in)
- Gearbox: Sadev 6-speed paddle-shift gearbox + 1 reverse
- Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
|2019||Jamie Chadwick||3||2||5||0||110||Race 6 of 6||10|
|2021||Jamie Chadwick||4||4||7||2||159||Race 8 of 8||27|
- Bold denotes a current Formula One Circuit.
- Italic denotes a former Formula One Circuit.
|3||Misano World Circuit||2019|
|5||TT Circuit Assen||2019|
|7||Circuit Paul Ricard (Cancelled)||2021|
|8||Red Bull Ring||2021|
|11||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps||2021|
|13||Circuit of the Americas||2021|
|14||Autodrómo Hermanos Rodriguez (Cancelled)||2021|
The championship offers a total prize fund of $1.5 million, with the series champion receiving a top prize of $500,000, and the remaining $1 million being divided among the rest of the drivers.
W Series race coverage is available on Channel 4 in the UK. The show is presented by long-time F1 journalist and sports presenter Lee McKenzie who shared the duties with fellow presenter Anna Woolhouse and joined by 2019 W-Series driver Naomi Schiff as studio analyst. Channel 4's Formula One commentator Alex Jacques replaces as the series' lead race commentator, with former Formula One driver David Coulthard and double-amputee driver Billy Monger in co-commentary roles and both Ted Kravitz and acting as pit-lane reporters. Both Jacques and Monger were forced to miss the opening two rounds of 2021 after Billy Monger tested positive for COVID-19, therefore Ben Edwards had substituted as lead commentator for Alex.
W Series races are live-streamed on Facebook, YouTube and/or Twitter in countries without television broadcasts.
The W Series has faced criticism since it was publicly announced, with opponents of the series claiming the category segregated female racers rather than promoting their inclusion in established series.
British IndyCar Series driver Pippa Mann responded to the series’ announcement on Twitter, saying "What a sad day for motorsport. Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them. I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backwards take place in my life time."
Mann's views on segregation were echoed by Charlie Martin, who stated "This series is founded on segregation, and while it may create opportunities for some female drivers, it sends a clear message that segregation is acceptable. We don’t discriminate in sport based on race, so it is particularly jarring that we feel it is acceptable to do so based on gender in 2018. As racers, we want to compete against the best drivers – regardless of age, race, sexual orientation or gender – and prove we are the best at what we do."
Former Formula E and ex-Sauber F1 Test Driver Simona de Silvestro has suggested that the $1.5 million prize fund would be better invested in a scholarship system to support the development of talent across a wider range of motorsport disciplines. "If there’s really that much money going into the series, there are a few girls that have been pretty competitive in junior series. It seems like everyone is just struggling to get the shot. If you look at a Red Bull affiliation or a Mercedes affiliation, somehow these kids always get into the best teams and then they’re winning. I think, personally, it would have been better to do something like the Red Bull programme and make sure some girls get an opportunity on a really good team."
Claire Williams, at that time deputy team principal of the Williams Formula One team, was initially highly critical of the series, and felt it was analogous to segregation; however she later retracted this statement, and praised the series for promoting women in motorsports.
Notes and references
- "All-female motor racing series offers potential F1 pathway". CNN. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- Gilboy, James. "W Series: Everything to Know About the Women-Only Racing Championship". The Drive. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
- "Segregation or opportunity? Female racing drivers react to W Series". www.espn.in. ESPN. 11 October 2018.
- Khorounzhiy, Valentin (18 May 2019). "Top F3 team to run all W Series cars". motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
- "2019 Race Calendar". wseries.com. W Series. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
- "W Series 2020 calendar announced: Russia and Sweden among initial venues". Motor Sport Magazine. 2020-01-16. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
- Errington, Tom. "W Series' 2020 champion can't defend her title in '21". Autosport.com. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
- Molly McElwee (4 June 2020). "W Series cancelled with planning underway for 'bigger and better' 2021 season". The Telegraph.
- Molly McElwee (10 June 2020). "W Series Esports League to be broadcast on the BBC". The Telegraph.
- "W Series to feature at eight F1 races" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "2019 Qualifiers". wseries.com. W Series. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
- <Adam Cooper> (30 January 2020). "W Series unveils full 2020 superlicence points allocation". www.motorsport.com. Motorsport.
- "New Tatuus F3 T-318 unveiled | Press Racing". www.pressracing.com. Retrieved 2018-10-26.
- "The new women-only single seater race series is dividing opinion". www.carthrottle.com. Car Throttle. 11 October 2018.
- "New all-female W Series to launch in 2019". www.motorsport.com. Motorsport. 10 October 2018.
- "W Series to be shown on Channel 4". W Series. 2021-05-26. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
- "Where to Watch". wseries.com. W Series. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
- Richards, Giles (2019-08-09). "W Series' first champion marks key step for women in motor racing | Giles Richards". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
- "'W Series' launched to mixed reviews in bid to increase number of women drivers challenging men in F1". www.independent.co.uk. The Independent. 10 October 2018.
- "Pippa Mann: The W Series is a 'sad day for motorsport'". www.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. 13 October 2018.
- "W Series: Pippa Mann says new women-only series will 'segregate' female racers". www.bbc.co.uk. The BBC. 10 October 2018.
- "Women-only W Series 'feels like a backwards step', says Charlie Martin". www.skysports.com. Sky Sports. 11 October 2018.
- "De Silvestro: Red Bull-style programme preferable to W Series". www.motorsport.com. Motorsport.com. 31 October 2018. Archived from the original on 15 November 2018.
- Parkes, Ian (2019-09-06). "The W Series Silences Its Critics. Next Stop: F1". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-22.