The creation of the W Series, a female single-seater racing championship that was announced in October, is an attempt to get more women behind the wheel, and eventually into Formula One, and to also steer girls and women into engineering and science careers.
The series, announced in October, will be a free-to-enter championship with a $1.5 million prize. It is scheduled to begin in May at six European racing circuits. Races may be added in the Americas, Asia and Australia, creating a global championship that is similar to Formula One.
Despite the likenesses, the W Series is separate from Formula One, although the group of people behind it includes some well-known faces from the sport.
David Coulthard, a former Formula One driver, is an advisory board member to the series, as is Adrian Newey, the Red Bull Racing designer.
In the interests of equal competition, the cars and engines will be identical in the W Series. Entrants will race Tatuus T-318 Formula Three cars, powered by Autotecnica Motori 4-cylinder 1.8-liter turbocharged engines.
Formula One, the sport’s commercial rights holder, supports the series.
“In the realm of single-seaters,” it told CNN, “we are focused on a clear path of development, so that all aspiring junior drivers, whatever their gender, have the opportunity to acquire the know-how required for the higher echelons of the sport in a nurturing as well as a truly competitive environment.”
The W Series is not sanctioned by the International Automobile Federation, motorsport’s governing body. The organization, commonly known by its French abbreviation, F.I.A., has efforts underway to increase female participation, but also supports the series, with a caveat.
“This new series is providing another opportunity for women to go racing, but in a female-only environment,” said Michèle Mouton, president of the F.I.A. Women in Motorsport Commission. “In the end though, if they want to be the best in the sport, they must compete in a mixed environment and beat everyone, not just other women.”
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