After their successful inaugural season in 2019, W Series was due to support both the US and Mexican grand prixs in 2020. However, the pandemic lead to the season being cancelled. But, living up to its promise of being bigger and better for the future, it has recently been announced that W Series will be supporting F1 at eight races for the 2021 season.
For those who have not heard or are unfamiliar with W Series, it is an all female racing competition, where all the drivers race in exactly the same Formula 3 cars, eliminating any advantage one may get over another. Its aim is to provide women with the opportunity to get into motorsport, and to hopefully have women competing in F1 once again.
I have to say, I was astounded to find out that over F1’s history, 900 drivers have competed in races, with only two of them being female. The most recent, being Lella Lombardi, having her final race in the 1976 season. So why is it that there have been no women competing in F1 for over 40 years?
One reason is the investment it takes for a team to bring up a young driver into F1. Unfortunately, without the precedent of there being a successful female driver in the sport, teams have not been willing to make that investment. W series has tried to side track this by selecting their drivers purely based on merit- there is no entrance fee!
And this feeds into another factor: that women don’t have that role model to look up to. Young girls who show an interest in motorsport must find it so hard to relate to any of the drivers, or see a clear path that a woman can take into the sport. It’s something that really needs to be tackled.
For F1 to bring W Series in to support eight races next season is a huge stride towards trying to achieve equality in the sport. Catherine Muir, the CEO of W Series, commented “There is no doubt that, now that W Series will be run alongside and in collaboration with Formula 1, our global reach, impact and influence will be increased significantly.” W Series is really paving the way forward for women in motorsport.
And in another huge step forwards, W Series is now eligible for FIA Super Licence points, meaning that those racing in the series will be simultaneously earning the points needed to eventually partake in F1. Not only does the new announcement mean that the outreach of the programme progresses, but the validity of it as well.
There will be those who question the idea of having an all female racing series, asking, why does there need to be a separate series for women? In part I agree. Without a doubt, in an ideal world there shouldn’t be one, but until women get the same opportunities that men get in motorsport, they will need the helping hand that W Series will provide.
W Series has proven that women can compete to a very high standard in motorsport. It shows the world that they have the physical prowess to race at the top level. It opens the door for women to get into the sport and hopefully one day, have the first female driver in F1 for the last 40 or so years. I am all for it and will certainly be watching the series in 2021.
Featured image from W Series facebook page