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ByDave Stopher

Oct 24, 2018


W Series today announces an all-new ground-breaking free-to-enter single-seater motor racing series for women drivers only, with a prize fund of US$1.5 million (US$1,500,000).

The inaugural W Series season will commence in the spring of 2019 and will encompass a number of races run on some of the best and most famous circuits in Europe, most of which have staged Formula 1 races for many decades. In forthcoming seasons the W Series schedule is set also to include races in America, Asia and Australia.

W Series will provide identical cars for 18-20 drivers in season one (2019), all of whom will have entered and passed a rigorous pre-selection programme/examination involving on-track testing, simulator appraisal, technical engineering tests, fitness trials etc. The successful applicants will then be given a thorough training programme centring on driving techniques, simulator exposure, technical engineering approaches, fitness, media skills etc, all of it carried out by a group of experts with decades of Formula 1 experience, meticulously recruited for the purpose: David Coulthard (multiple Grand Prix winner); Adrian Newey (the most successful Chief Design Engineer in modern Formula 1 history); Dave Ryan (40 years’ Formula 1 experience in team management with the McLaren and Manor Formula 1 teams, as well having run his own GT racing team Von Ryan); Matt Bishop (15 years’ experience as a journalist and editor in Formula 1, followed by 10 years’ experience heading up McLaren’s communications, content, media and PR operation in Formula 1).

At the heart of W Series’ DNA is the firm belief that women can compete equally with men in motorsport. However, an all-female series is essential in order to force greater female participation. W Series is therefore a mission-driven competition, the aim of which is not only to provide exciting racing for spectators and viewers on a global scale, but also to equip its drivers with the experience and expertise with which they may progress their careers, racing and honing their skills in W Series before eventually graduating to existing high-level mainstream racing series.

The drivers
After a rigorous pre-selection process involving on-track testing, simulator appraisal, technical engineering tests, fitness trials etc, involving the best, fastest and most successful female racing drivers in the world today, 18-20 successful applicants will compete in the inaugural W Series, starting in the spring of 2019.

The car
The cars will all be identical Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 cars, powered by identical Autotecnica Motori inline four-cylinder 1.8-litre turbocharged engines, using Sadev six-speed sequential gearboxes, fitted with HALO safety devices.

The circuits
The circuits will be some of the best and most famous in Europe, most of which have staged Formula 1 races for many decades.

The prize money
W Series will be free to enter for all its drivers. In addition, significant prize monies will be awarded. Out of a total prize fund of US$1.5 million (US$1,500,000), the overall W Series victor will scoop a pay-out of US$500,000, and there will be prize money awarded all the way down to 18th place in the final standings.

The management

Chief Executive Officer: Catherine Bond Muir

  • Highly rated lawyer with 25 years’ experience working in sport
  • Corporate finance banker specialising in sport and leisure

Racing Director: Dave Ryan

  • Hugely experienced Formula 1 mechanic, Team Manager and Sporting Director, having worked for McLaren and Manor in Formula 1 for 40-plus years
  • Contributor to the winning of 20 Formula 1 drivers’ and constructors’ world championships

Communications Director: Matt Bishop

  • Award-winning Formula 1 journalist and editor (F1 Racing magazine and Autosport.com) and editorial director of Haymarket Motorsport Publications (1996-2007)
  • Director of Media, Content and Communications, then Chief Communications Officer, at McLaren (2008-2017)

Commercial Director: Tim Crow

  • World-leading sports marketing and sponsorship executive
  • Sports rights holder and agency Chief Executive Officer with 30 years’ experience in revenue generation and marketing innovation

Advisory board member: David Coulthard

  • Ex-Formula 1 driver and multiple Grand Prix winner
  • Formula 1 TV commentator for Channel 4 (UK)
  • Successful businessman and brand ambassador with many business interests outside Formula 1

Advisory board member: Adrian Newey

  • Most successful Chief Design Engineer in British motorsport history
  • Winner of 20 Formula 1 drivers’ and constructors’ world championships with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull

The quotes

David Coulthard said:
“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 possess the kind of super-powerful strength levels that some sports require. You also don’t have to be a man. That’s why we at W Series firmly believe that female and male racing drivers can compete with one another on equal terms given the same opportunity.

“At the moment, however, women racing drivers tend to reach a ‘glass ceiling’ at around the GP3/Formula 3 level on their learning curve, often as a result of a lack of funding rather than a lack of talent.

“That’s why an all-new all-female single-seater motor racing series is required – W Series – to establish a competitive and constructive motorsport habitat in which our drivers will be able to equip themselves with the necessary skill-set eventually to move on up to existing high-level mainstream racing series and compete with the best male drivers on equal terms.”

Adrian Newey said:
“Having worked in international motorsport for more than 30 years, and having watched at very close quarters some of the greatest racing drivers of all time – including a number of Formula 1 world champions – I have a reasonable understanding of the constituents of a top-class driver’s necessary skill-set. With proper training women are physically strong enough to tick that constituent.

“The reason why so few women have so far raced successfully at the highest levels against men may, however, be a lack of opportunity rather than a lack of capability.

“And that’s why I’m so pleased to be involved in W Series, to contribute to creating a platform on which women drivers can improve by racing one another and from which they may then springboard their careers forward and, yes, ultimately race successfully in F1.”

Dave Ryan said:
“W Series will give more women racing drivers crucial experience in relevant cars on relevant circuits, so that they may learn not only how to be quick but also how to win, to help them progress their careers beyond the levels that have traditionally been attainable by them.

“More than that, though, we want W Series to be a catalyst for positive change for all women in motorsport. We want W Series to encourage more girls and young women to study STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] subjects at schools, colleges and universities, so as to build rewarding careers as race mechanics, technicians, engineers, aerodynamicists and so on.”

Catherine Bond Muir said:
“Having been a busy sports lawyer and corporate financier for the first 25 years of my career, I had my first baby at 45 and, while taking an extended period of maternity leave, began to develop the concept of W Series while at home.

“Almost three years later, it’s enormously exciting finally to be able publicly to announce the inauguration of W Series.

“There are just too few women competing in single-seaters series at the moment. W Series will increase that number very significantly in 2019, thereby powerfully unleashing the potential of many more female racing drivers. W Series drivers will become global superstars – inspirational role models for women everywhere – and every organisation, every company, every sponsor and indeed every single person who helps W Series’ winners and champions achieve those ground-breaking successes will be able to celebrate their part in it, publicly, to lasting worldwide acclaim.

“W Series is an inspiring innovation whose time is now.”

The British Racing & Sports Car Club (BRSCC) have been appointed by W Series as the organising club.