A new Formula-based racing series, Formula W, will begin in the spring of 2019. The W Series will be based in the United Kingdom as an international women’s-only racing circuit. Backers include former Grand Prix star David Coulthard and others and a prize pot of $1.5 million is being offered.
The W Series is aimed towards attracting the world’s best female drivers and then fast-track (pun intended) towards Formula 1. Ultimately, the series’ founders would like to see the world’s first female Formula 1 champion as a result of the W Series.
Motorsport is heavily dominated by men at all levels, though inroads into the laboratories and garages have been made as women begin to bear the fruit of STEM promotion in schools.
The W Series will be led by CEO Catherine Bond Muir. “This is a tremendously exciting time for motorsport in general and for women in particular, as we aim to bring the sport up to date and show the world just what women are really capable of. Many sports in which women and men compete equally also run segregated events purely to increase the numbers of women who participate. Until now, motor racing has been the only sport in which there were no separate series for women.
“Of all the many thousands of people involved in the technical side of our sport across the globe, only a handful are women,” she added. “The last woman to start a Formula 1 Grand Prix was Lella Lombardi more than 40 years ago, and there has never been a female Formula 1 Grand Prix race winner, let alone a world champion. Our mission is to change all of that.”
The first W Series race will be in May of 2019 and will move through six circuits throughout Europe. The cars will be mechanically identical vehicles being called the Tatuus F3 T-318, which will be powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine. Adjustable aerodynamics and tire options will mirror what’s seen in F1 racing.
The W Series is free to enter, but a rigorous vetting process will shake out the chaff and put only the best on the grid. Muir hopes that drivers from all parts of motorsport will be drawn to the W Series to compete. The end goal being to become competitive enough in the sport to be considered for a Formula 1 team.