Motorsport’s female-only W Series will feature on Formula One’s support race programme for the first time in 2020, adding new events to run alongside the Grands Prix in the United States and Mexico.
The events at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas and Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez will expand the W Series calendar from six races to eight, serving as the final two rounds of the season.
The races will take place in October on successive Saturdays when Formula One qualifying sessions are held.
The move is a major endorsement of the W Series in only its second year, which will also feature rounds in Russia, Sweden, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, with those races accompanying the DTM German Touring Car Championship.
W Series chief executive Catherine Bond Muir said: “Our two all-new races will follow six races on the DTM platform, making a very varied, extremely exciting and truly international eight-race championship, in eight countries across the globe. I’m particularly pleased that W Series will now stage races outside Europe, and the USA and Mexico are of course both very important new territories for us.
“A lot of work has gone into stitching the W Series-Formula One deal together, but above all I want to thank W Series’ drivers, the brave and talented young women who captured the imagination of the sporting world last summer. Mark my words: they’ll do so again this year, from May to October, all over the world.”
Formula One has not had a woman compete in the series since Italy’s Lella Lombardi finished sixth in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. The W Series was conceived in part to help rectify that, aiming to create a path for female drivers to race at the highest level.
“In just one year, W Series has contributed significantly to increasing interest in the topic of diversity and inclusion in motorsport,” added Ross Brawn, managing director of motorsport at Formula One.
“We are convinced that our sport must offer equal opportunities for men and women to compete together – it is no coincidence that improving the diversity of the Formula One grid by supporting and promoting driver talent from under-represented backgrounds is one of our strategic objectives.
“The ability for the great crowds who traditionally attend the Austin and Mexico City Grands Prix to see these talented female drivers up close will definitely further raise the awareness of the importance of inclusion and diversity in motorsport.”
The announcement marks the latest boost for the W Series, which in December confirmed its ‘first major partnership’ in a multi-year deal with global smartphone brand Rokit Phones.
The 2020 W Series season gets underway in Russia on 30th May, with inaugural champion Jamie Chadwick seeking to retain her title in an expanded field of 20 drivers.