The return of W Series: Everything you need to know
This weekend eighteen female drivers will climb into the cockpits of their Tatuus F3-318’s and fight it out in the first round of the W-Series 2021 season at the Red Bull Ring.
After a year out in 2020 due to the pandemic W Series, which is designed to be “the world’s most popular and inclusive female sporting series”, is ready to build on the momentum of the inaugural season along with a new partnership with F1 to propel more women into top level motorsport.
But the inaugural season in 2019 was not immune to controversy and the series is hoping to put fans criticism about indistinguishable livery designs behind them with the transition to a team based championship from 2021 including new livery designs and external partners including Veloce, Puma and Miguel Forbes.
First of all, what is W Series?
W Series in an all-female single-seater FIA F3 championship which was launched in 2018. The championship hopes to be able to turn the tide for women in motorsport after more than 45 years since the last female racer in Formula 1, Lella Lombardi.
The series, unlike other junior formulas, aims to remove barriers and provide equal opportunities as it is free-to-enter. Therefore W Series is able to offer a platform for female drivers who have been unable to gather funding throughout their career up to now.
The winner of the W Series championship receives £500,000 to go towards their motorsport career with a further £1m split between the rest of the drivers, depending on championship finishing position.
Not only is the series focused on the current field but also the female racers of the future, with the hopes that, the current stars of single seater motorsport in this years W Series will encourage more young girls to take up karting at the grassroots of the sport.
While W series’ CEO Catherine Bond Muir’s words that; “If W Series does not succeed, we would have let down a whole generation” may seem excessive – they are very much not – the future of women in F1 somewhat depends entirely on the success of this championship. We are currently not close to having a female driver in F1 and the success of this project may not be seen for years to come. However, with ever-growing audience appetite for women’s sport and increasing external partners; the future of W Series looks bright.
W Series move to a team-based championship
W series will become a team-based championship in 2022 with this year’s season operating as a period of transition.
As mentioned previously, W Series faced criticism from fans in 2019 due to indistinguishable livery designs compounded by W Series’ rules that mean drivers change cars in each round.
This season will see six teams branded by external partners with the remaining teams continuing to be branded by the championship, with new livery designs. The new owners range from existing brands, individuals as well as racing teams.
To protect the championships aim for equal opportunities for all drivers, the cars will continue to be serviced and maintained by the championship as well as remaining mechanically identical.
Among the six new teams are names such as sportswear brand Puma, businessman Miguel Forbes and Veloce racing who’s Extreme E team includes W-Series 2019 champion, Jamie Chadwick.
The Weekend format
The Weekend format for the first two rounds begin with a thirty-minute Practice session and thirty-minute qualifying on a Friday followed by the race on Saturday afternoon. The first round in Spielberg is as follows (In local time):
Practice: Friday 25th June 13:10
Qualifying: Friday 25th June 16:30
Race: Saturday 26th June 16:30
Other than the first two rounds in Austria, the exact times of sessions have not been confirmed so we are likely to see some variation of the weekend depending on the schedule of Formula 1 and other supporting categories at events.
The Drivers and teams for 2021
|Bunker Racing||Fabienne Wohlwend (5) and Sabre Cook (37)|
|M. Forbes Motorsport||Beitske Visser (95) and Ayla Agren (17)|
|Puma W Series Team||Marta Garcia (19) and Gosia Rdest (3)|
|Racing X||Alice Powell (27) and Jess Hawkins (21)|
|Sirin Racing||Miki Koyama (54) and Vicky Piria (11)|
|Veloce Racing||Jamie Chadwick (55) and Bruna Tomaselli (97)|
|Ecurie W||Emma Kimiläinen (7) and Abbie Eaton (44)|
|Scuderia W||Sarah Moore (26) and Belen Garcia (22)|
|W Series Academy||Irina Sidorkova (51) and Nerea Marti (32)|
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