A new women-only racing series has been launched with the aim of getting female drivers into Formula One.
The W Series is a new six-round championship starting in May next year. Organisers hope the women-only element will lead to the identification of female talent, boost participation among women and allow female drivers to further their own careers before eventually being integrated into Formula One.
The W Series is looking to attract 20 of the top female drivers, competing for a US$1.5 million prize fund. Competitors can enter for free and will be selected from ability assessments, while the championship will provide teams identical Tatuus T-318 Formula Three-spec cars, fitted with HALO safety devices.
The W Series has yet to announce any venues but says it is targeting European circuits, ‘most of which’ have staged Formula One races.
W Series chief executive Catherine Bond Muir said: “We aim to bring the sport up to date and show the world just what women are really capable of. Until now, motor racing has been the only sport in which there were no separate series for women.
“Women in motorsport are something of a rarity today, but with W Series as a catalyst we hope to transform the diversity of the sport - and perhaps even encourage more girls into professions they had not previously considered.”
No woman has raced in Formula One since Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976, and the plans for the new series have been met with positivity from women’s organisations.
Susie Wolff, member of the Women in Motorsport Commission and former Williams test driver, said: “My view on this, and I know that this is the shared position of the organisations I work with, is that we should continue to encourage and create opportunities for women to compete on the same level as men.
“We fundamentally believe that the best opportunity to identify top female talent is by facilitating a dynamic where more women can compete and rise to the top in a mixed competition on equal terms.”