Wednesday, 10 october 2018, 04:26 , by Matthew Scott
An all-female racing series has been launched by a group led by ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard in an attempt to provide a platform for women racers to reach F1. The W Series will be launched in 2019, promising a $500,000 prize to its inaugural winner.
Alongside Coulthard is F1 design genius Adrian Newey, former McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan, and Matt Bishop, an ex-F1 journalist and chief of communications at McLaren.
The series is launched with the stated aim of proving female drivers are good enough to race in F1 – a woman has not started a grand prix since the 1970s.
Women in F1 was a hot topic earlier this year when former Lotus and Renault test driver Carmen Jorda suggested Formula 1 was too physically demanding for female drivers, who should instead try to break into Formula E – shortly after testing the all-electric series' machinery.
However, 13-time grand prix winner Coulthard says strength is not a barrier to women making it to the upper echelons of motorsport, and hopes that the series can provide the funding that is often lacking when females try to rise through the ranks.
"In order to be a successful racing driver, you have to be skilled, determined, competitive, brave and physically fit," he said.
This creates opportunity rather than taking it away and that’s why I believe it’s a day my sister Lynsay would have loved to be part of #ifyouwantafundamentalchangeintheoutcomeyouneedafundamentalchangeintheprocess https://t.co/XdFgYVOww5— David Coulthard (@therealdcf1) October 10, 2018
"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."
We believe any woman with talent, passion and commitment should have a chance in motorsport. We're here to create those chances and increase participation in a sport we love. #RethinkRacing pic.twitter.com/Ilhq0ZhfLL— W Series (@WSeriesRacing) October 10, 2018
The series has been backed by Tatiana Calderon, Sauber's test and development driver, as well as GP3 racer and Jamie Chadwick, who recently became the first female race winner in British Formula 3.
Not all reaction has been positive – British IndyCar driver Pippa Mann among those to voice opposition to the series on social media in a thread of tweets.
What a sad day for motorsport. Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them. I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backwards take place in my life time. https://t.co/8ZrKqaADwx— Pippa Mann (@PippaMann) October 10, 2018