In an effort to encourage more females into motorsports such as Formula 1, there’s now a brand new female-only racing series dubbed the W series. This international single-seater championship launches next year and its aim is crystal clear: empower women and help them break out from lower motorsport divisions.
Former F1 racing driver David Coulthard is backing up the project, as well as former F1 team manager Dave Ryan and Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey. The latter acts as an advisory board member with David and Dave serving as judge and racing director respectively. Although the project has already rallied massive support in just a few weeks, it’s also come under heavy criticism, including that from already-established female racing drivers.
Pippa Mann, six-time Indy 500 driver, called the series “a historic step backwards”. She points out that unlike other sports racing is probably the only place where both sexes are free to compete alongside one another due to there being no physical advantage of being a man over a woman.
Sophia Florsch, a German F3 driver, shared Pippa’s point of view. Although she argued that the solution for the lack of females in motorsport is long-term support and trustful partners, W series merely is not the way forward, she said. And knowing how many things women had to fight for in the past, it’s difficult to see it any differently. It’s unnecessary segregation, and it feels regressive.
Although the W series has been heavily trolled online and become somewhat of a meme on certain websites such as Reddit, there are still those who support it. Stephane Kox, daughter of Peter Kox, Dutch GT-car driver, praised the series, claiming it’ll be of massive support to hundreds of ambitious females across the globe.
Putting that aside, the competition itself seems to be designed to be as fair and even as possible. All of the contests will have to use a Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 car fitted with an Autotecnica Motori 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, pushing out 270 horsepower. Unlike Formula 3 however, the cars will not be owned and operated by privateers.
Instead, all of the maintenance and repairs will be carried out by technicians hired by the organisers. Teams will still exist, but they’ll have next to no saying in how the cars get maintained and repaired. This should, in theory, equalise the playing field and not only favour teams with big budgets who can afford experienced technicians.
The prize pot stands at $1.5 million with $500,000 going to the overall championship winner at the end of the season. The rest gets distributed across the field according to the finishing order. Although $1.5 million is by no means a small figure, it’s nowhere near as large as that of other, similar racing divisions.
What’s your opinion on the W series? Do you think it will produce more female racing drivers and, perhaps one day, a Formula 1 champion, or is it just another way to segregate males from females?