All-women racing series launched to find female F1 stars

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.

"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."

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.

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Comments (56)

  • Simon Davis
    Segregating racing series on a gender basis isn't the answer. If you're going to complain about the lack of high level female racers, look at why there are less youngsters in the first place. There aren't many girls coming through from karting in the first place, not many take it up and even less do so seriously. Getting more girls involved in grass roots karting and progressing up into single seaters is the answer (as well as other forms of racing).
  • Matt BenDaniel
    Female competition divisions work well for some sports: soccer, tennis, golf, basketball, volleyball, and some others. Motorsports haven't had as much success. I'm cynical that there is enough fan interest to make it work. Also, I'd think you have to develop the feeder series first. There hasn't even been enough fan interest in male racers to make F1 popular in America.
  • Szymon Siesicki
    No, as this strengthens the segregation. Just let them have a higher chance to get a seat if they are actually good. Don't do it for the sake of race/minority/religion/gender. Soon you will have X spots for a given race, religion or gender... its not the answer. If there is a good female driver just give her a chance.
  • Zenzi Mulder
    All this 'segregation' stuff is missing the point, there already IS segregation. Lower tiers have a ton of female racers but for some reason few of them make it to the feeder series? Let them have their own series, see how well they do so they can shut up the debate surrounding this once and for all.
  • Jakub Zwolinski
    Terrible. If you can earn your way thru the current ranks what makes anyone think they can do it thru a special series designed lay the ground work forced integration. Once they fail the women will be granted an extra second to deploy drs so playing field is " equal" . Engineer the cars not personnel.
  • Reuben Charles
    I think it's a good idea. It will encourage women to enter the motorsport industry, spectators will get another sport to watch and more opportunities for sponsorship. We don't have enough women entering the sport now and if this starts, we might just find some really good talent.
  • Stuart Jones
    My god I read all these negative sexiest comments and it’s obvious why women are under represented in motor sport. I’ve karted against women and I’d love to see more women enter all levels and im in favor of anything that would help to achieve that.
  • Hugues Merone
    Why not just recruit one of them and let her a chance to perform next to other racers instead of wasting money by creating an entire league for them? I mean it's not like they are playing rugby or american football
  • Christoph Büscher
    Good idea but only as an addition to racing in other categories. A kind of necessary evil to promote women in motorsport for the moment, but not the general direction we should go in.
  • Greg Valdez
    Give them F1 cars and make them race the same races. If they can compete with lap times and race times and race pace with the male F1 drivers, bring them over. There's your chance.
  • William Scalzitti
    Shirley Muldowney raced against the men, so does Courtney Force, melissa paris, A separate series is like saying woman can't compete... utter bullshit
  • Jerry Mascarenhas
    Good Idea. There are many female drivers who stop driving in sports as there is not much way forward. This platform should see some real talent.
  • Aidan Millward
    The only half decent single seater females out there at the minute are Jamie Chadwick and Tatiana Calderon. Would be a waste of time and money.
  • Richard Harrold
    This is not the answer. Just let women race in the existing series. There are plenty of women who could outdrive the likes of Lance Stroll.
  • Adam Glass
    Yes... but let the top 4 earn a spot into the current f1. If you add 20 more cars to each race, the tracks will be a parking lot off accidents.
  • Ricardo Gilperez
    F1 female league! ... Interesting. Can't wait to see all those emotions together having already VET, VER and HAM love feud.
  • Eathan Haywood-Weeb
    If women aren’t making it into the regular categories then they clearly don’t deserve to be in F1.
  • Brian Weaver
    Making a separate series just for women would be sexism at its finest! What happened to equality?
  • Wayne Chiles
    Wouldn’t want to be a member of the pit crew, them trying to park in that gap
  • Jakub Zwolinski
    Terrible. Soon after they will be granted an extra second to deploy drs as to ' level the playing field' .

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