All female W Series as they launch this weekend

W Series

The newest addition to the motorsport family will see an all-female roster of drivers competing for a total prize pool of $1.5million in the new W Series. The W Series which will be broadcasted on Channel 4 begins with the opening race at Hockenheim on 4th May.

Following the launch in October 2018, the 20 driver field from 13 countries will race on six tracks in five different European countries as they aim to lift the first W Series championship trophy as they compete in mechanically identical single-seater cars.

More than 100 applicants from 30 different countries applied to join the series before 54 were selected by a panel of motorsport experts to take part in the qualifiers. 

The championship will feature British drivers Jamie Chadwick, Esmee Hawkey, Jessica Hawkins, Sarah Moore and Alice Powell.

The initial concept came from discussions about the lack of females competing in motorsport, particularly in Formula 1. While it's a conversation that is regularly had, the aim of the W Series is to create a path for female racers in the industry to make the step up to, and eventually into, F1.

"W Series will act as a catalyst for that change. From 2019 onwards it will give 20 women the opportunity to race relevant cars on relevant tracks, giving them the relevant experience and qualifications to put them in contention for potential Formula 1 drives in the future."

Although Formula E team principal Susie Wolff regularly tested for F1 teams during her on-track career, the last woman to race competitively was Lella Lombardi and the last of her dozen races was in 1976; with the number of single-seater female racers far lower than it was a decade ago.

Despite criticism that segregation is not the answer from, among others, former Sauber test driver Simona de Silvestro and Indycar driver Pippa Mann, Chief Executive Catherine Bond Muir believes this is the best way forward.

She suggested at the launch that increased participation overall will lead to growth at the top level, explaining that motorsport is the only sport that doesn't have a competition solely for women. 

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Along with the hefty prize, the women will be using the same vehicles seen in other similar series' as they look to ensure their drivers also receive the best education and gain the most experience, both on and off the track.

W Series adds: "All our cars will be mechanically identical, capable of identical performance, therefore, which situation will result in close and exciting races won by the most talented drivers, not those whose parents or backers can afford to place them in the fastest cars."

The competition is being backed by some of motorsports biggest names including David Coulthard and Adrian Newey. As well as taking a place on the Advisory Board, Coulthard will be part of Channel 4's coverage team and has been hugely involved in promoting the new competition.

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