When the W Series was launched it self-styled as ground-breaking. It had a prime spot on free-to-air TV with Channel Four. It provided cars for competitors who didn’t have to pay to enter and it aimed to get women into Formula One.
Now as they get ready for their second series in 2020, increasing the number of drivers from 18 to 20, W Series has announced their first major partnership since the series launched: a multi-year deal with telecoms company ROKiT.
ROKiT branding will appear on every W Series car and all the drivers’ overalls. A Reuters source suggested that the deal was worth 10 million pounds ($12.83 million) over three years.
Phone company ROKiT already partner with the Williams Formula One team, back Venturi’s Formula E team and they sponsored Nicolas Hamilton, Lewis Hamilton’s brother, in the 2019 British Touring Car Championship.
This is a resounding vote of confidence in the young series and it is not the only success they have had. Viewing figures for the opening race were well beyond what was expected, with 400,000 UK residents tuning in to watch the new event.
After the eventual series champion, Jamie Chadwick won the inaugural W Series race at Hockenheim she joined the Williams Racing Driver Academy, a team that has a history of successfully training racers for Formula One, including Jenson Button.
Chadwick is positive about what the new partnership means for women in sport: “This is wonderful news and not only for W Series but also for the profile and success of women’s sport in general. ROKiT is such an exciting brand.”
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Catherine Bond Muir, the W Series CEO agrees: “As a high-tech, disruptive, customer-focused brand, ROKiT sits comfortably alongside W Series and its mission to change the face of motorsport and we’re delighted that we’ll be racing together in the coming years.”
“It’s also exciting to see a brand that’s already present in Formula 1, Formula E and other well-established race series, recognising and supporting opportunities for women in sport, and taking immediate action. We expect this to be an emerging trend in 2020.”
With a bigger second season planned for 2020 and the seal of approval from one of the racings’ big sponsors, the future looks bright for the W Series. If things continue in this direction, we should be seeing more women on the Formula One starting grid sooner rather than later.