Women in motorsport are set to be given an exclusive opportunity to make their way into Formula 1 after a new women-only single-seater championship — the W Series — was announced earlier this week.
The W Series will start in 2019 and the organizers are confident it will provide the platform for the talented women racers to make their way into Formula 1, which is considered the pinnacle of motorsport.
The series is being backed by a number of people heavily involved in F1, namely, former McLaren and Red Bull Racing driver David Coulthard and legendary championship winning car designer and aerodynamicist Adrian Newey.
The 13-time F1 race winner, Coulthard, is confident men and women can compete in motorsport on equal terms and believes the new series will help bridge the gap. The last woman to compete in an F1 race was Italy’s Lella Lombardi in 1976.
“In order to be a successful racing driver, you have to be skilled, determined, competitive, brave and physically fit, but you don’t have to be a man,” Coulthard said, as per Sky Sports.
Thirteen-time F1 race winner David Coulthard is one of the shareholders in the W Series. In this picture, Coulthard attends the Laureus F1 Charity Night on Aug. 30, 2018, in Milan, Italy. Photo: Claudio Villa/Getty Images for Laureus
“We at W Series believe that female and male racing drivers can and should compete on equal terms if they have the same opportunity and training – and we’re here to make that happen,” the Scot added.
Newey, who is currently the chief designer at Red Bull Racing, believes the only reason women are not in F1 at the moment is due to the lack of opportunity rather than capability. He is also certain the difference in strength between the two genders has nothing to do as well.
“I have a reasonable understanding of the constituents of a top-class driver’s necessary skill set. And brute strength isn’t on that list,” Newey said. “That being the case, I believe the reason why so few women have so far raced successfully at the highest levels against men is a lack of opportunity rather than a lack of capability.”
The W Series, that gets underway in 2019, hopes to attract 20 of the best women drivers from across the world. The entry into the series will be free, with the drivers set to be selected based on merit after testing in the car, on simulators and through physical trials.
The cars, which will be identical, will be provided by the championship and the winner will be handed a check worth $500,000 with the total prize money set to be around $2 million. The season that gets underway in May will comprise of six 30-minute races in Europe for the first season with races in America, Australia and Asia planned for forthcoming campaigns.
A number of names have already begun making the rounds as potential candidates for the W Series. Jamie Chadwick is keen to compete in the series after becoming the first woman to win a British Formula 3 race.
Apart from the Briton, there is Tatiana Calderon, who is a test driver for the Sauber F1 team and currently competing in the GP3 Series. Another prospect is Sophia Florsch, who is currently competing in the European Formula 3 alongside Mick Schumacher and Dan Ticktum.
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