Women-only the way to go? Series launched to find next female F1 racers
Innovation
Posted By: Editor   |  10 Oct 2018   |  8:52 pm GMT  |  248 comments

A new women-only single-seater racing series has been launched with the intention of finding the next top female racing drivers and guiding them on the path to Formula One.

It has the backing of ex driver turned entrepreneur David Coulthard and engineer Adrian Newey, but is has sparked debate about whether women-only is the right approach given that motor racing is one of the few sports where women can compete with men on equal terms.

The aim of the W Series is to help female racing drivers showcase their abilities and help fund their next step on the ladder to Formula One, with the championship winner receiving £500,000, and a remaining £1,000,000 spread over the remaining championship positions.

Consisting of eighteen competitors, they will not have to provide sponsorship, but they will be permitted to enter through a selection process before a panel of judges.

On the judging panel will be Coulthard, former F1 team manager Dave Ryan – who is the series’ racing director – and Newey, who is an advisory board member.

The six-round championship aims to get underway in May 2019 and will consist of 30-minute races based in Europe, with the aim of expanding internationally in the future. They will be competing with Tatuus Formula Three specification cars.

The last female Formula One competitor: Giovanna Amati driving for Brabham during qualifying for the 1992 Mexican Grand Prix.

Chief Executive of the W Series, Catherine Bond Muir, said on BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme that female drivers typically don’t have the funding to go beyond Formula Three and that the new series will help fund their next steps.

“We’re doing something that hasn’t been done before. There’s a severe gender imbalance in motor sport and that’s a problem, as women and men are capable of racing together on equal terms.

“We’re tackling this head on because we’re going to immediately increase the numbers of women who are racing in single seaters and give drivers more experience to help them go forward into more senior racing series and we’re looking for champions of the future.

“I think there’s a structural problem involved in motor sport. Women haven’t been given the opportunity because they haven’t been able to raise the money to go forward into higher series. There’s a glass ceiling at Formula Three and W Series is setting it’s stall out at the Formula Three level and we’re going to train our drivers to propel them into Formula Two and hopefully into Formula One.”

The most successful female Formula One driver was Lella Lombardi, who scored half a point in the shortened, rain-affected Spanish Grand Prix of 1975, whilst Giovanna Amati was the last to compete in a Grand Prix weekend, for Brabham in 1992.

More recently, Susie Wolff was the last female racer to take part in a Grand Prix weekend, last driving for Williams during free practice for the 2015 British Grand Prix.

What does the motorsport world think?

The idea of having a women-only racing series is not a new one. Former commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone was widely-criticised for the plan he was developing with Carnen Jorda a couple of years ago. The news today has also divided opinion amongst motor racing’s insiders.

Some have praised the idea of helping female racing drivers get valuable track time, showcase their abilities and provide funding for them to take the next steps, but others believe that the only way for women to break through is in competition with males.

GP3 competitor Tatiana Calderon, who joined Sauber as development driver.

As well as David Coulthard, Formula One drivers Pedro de la Rosa, Gerhard Berger, Kevin Magnussen and John Watson have all backed the series, along with current Sauber test and development driver – and GP3 racer – Tatiana Calderon, who said: “Having raced for more than a decade in karting, Formula 3, GP3 and World Series among others, but having been a very small minority in getting that far in motorsport, I know how difficult it is for female drivers to get opportunities to progress their careers. Hopefully this series help provide those opportunities to some young rising female talent and eventually allow the best to prove that we can compete at the same level as men.”

However, some female racing drivers have been disappointed with the introduction of the series. Former IndyCar driver Pippa Mann wrote on social media; “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.”

By: Luke Murphy

Headline Image: W Series

Remaining Images: Motorsport Images

Featured Innovation
INNOVATION BRIEFING
technical innovation from tata COMMUNICATIONS
Previous
Next
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!
1

Let’s hope she applies and gets a seat.

https://www.bbc.com/sport/av/motorsport/45881331

2

OK, so one of the women drivers in this series clearly stands out above the rest… Then what? Where does she go next? I don’t see this new series as proving anything.

3

Lol, I supose you won’t see the W series at an F1 event because the old school Yanks that are running the show don’t like women, and another thing crossed my mind…..will they have umbrella boys or umbrella girls?
(All in fun).
PK.

4

Umbrella boys. With the smallest g-strings you’ve ever seen.

5

One woman’s positive discrimination is another man’s discrimination, discrimination.

How about just promoting kart racing to girls in the same way it’s promoted to boys and see what happens?

6

Just had an idea, and hope no-one in motorsport takes offence,

If Robert Kubica cannot secure an F1 race seat, employ him as a kind of on track measuring stick with a car assigned to him.

He gets to show his stuff in an actual single seat race, rather than simply tests and FP1 sessions; while the women and girls have a proven Formula One race winner on track to prove themselves against, if solely trying to beat each other is not their bag.

Or a GP3 champion to act like a pace car, to give the contestants a speed and performance to try to beat. I say GP3 champ’ because I believe F1’s regular medical car is driven by one?

7

Why stop at the driver, why not have an entire team of women? Let’s say for a minimum of seven years just to see how they get on, sink or swim!

Women occupy thousands of different occupations. It could easily be put together for post 2021, so let them have at it! Heck! I might even pay Sky daft amounts to watch…

8

Maybe if it’s true equality in motorsport that is being sought then just as in other sports there should be an all female competition as well as an all male. The difference though from what is suggested, is that it should be using the same equipment for both. i.e. a womens F1 series, run in parallel on the same race weekend. Mens and womens qualis on Saturday and mens and womens races sunday. It could become a condition of entry to F1 to field both teams i.e. 4 cars. Leveraging doing both series together spreads the cost and increases the amount of ‘show’ per weekend….make a great product for Liberty to sell.

9

Sorry for addressing the elephant in the room. But what’s the point of a women only series in a sport where you can barely see te women?

10

Formula Racing, take a turn, create a series for just women, how can women accept that, to drive a car you need to drive for yourself. Although physical strength is not required anymore. You could actually go straight to F1, now it’s just a junior formula! Congratulations to those who will earn money on the series! It’s definitely not women!

11

Time for Moto GP?

12

I recently heard from buzzfeed, there are people with both gender/ or undecided. I don’t know how that works maybe someone could enlighten me. But evidently there are as many as there are people with red hair in this world. What category should they drive in?

Maybe with the ones with red hair. Formula red, sorry that could have been a Ferrari thing/dream. Formula undecided then

13

It’s actually even more confusing than that because your gender is now not bilogically determined but determined by what you identify as. So, for example, if you’re a man based on the old scheme of gender identification, but you identify as a woman, then you are a woman, and vice versa.

So I’m afraid I can’t enlighten you, as I’m as confused as you are.

14

Formula confusing then:)

15

@ luke C…..I addressed this issue in part but somehow it missed the cut…or was given the status of MIA!!! However, this entire transgender issue is a total fiction. No one can change their gender which is recognised at birth. It is scientifically proven by ‘chromosomic identification’. Either it’s XX or XY. That is a given for life, anything else is a fiction of the mind promoted by those minorities attempting to engineer society.

16

Indeed Kenneth. Isn’t it amazing how clear everything becomes when you apply a man’s logic to a given problem or situation, as opposed to the femist logic of gender fluidity and multiplicity where apparently there are many more genders than the two we think there are?

17

A biological man who transisitioned to a woman, named Rachel V McKinnon, recently won the Women’s World Cycling Championship.

So if a man can transition to a woman and win women’s cycling world championship, I see no reason a man couldn’t transition to being a woman and win the w-series.

18

You will not get all women to agree on what way is the best to go forward. It’s just like with men (and to some extent women) in F1. They can’t agree on the the tiniest changes or details.

Someone needs to make a decision and a attempt to build on something. They have some prominent names backing it. If there’s a commercial interest it will happen, and if this way is successful it may get momentum. If not try something else. What’s the big fuss.

It’s not my money on the line, so why should I be worries about that point. If someone got a greater idea and initiative, we’ll let them go on with that. It’s a free market capitalist world we live in.

19

Can someone list 18 top quality female drivers who will be likely to get a seat in this series. I confess a limited knowledge in this area so help required please.

20

Point is there aren’t any top quality female racers – that’s the reasoning behind the series! I can make a few who might take part (arguably not all of these are in agreement with the series or would be interested in partaking)- Danica Patrick, Susie Wolff, Carmen Jorda, Jamie Chadwick, Tatiana Calderon and Simona De Silvestro. None of whom you could call ‘top class’ (apart from Danica maybe) but given the opportunities could become so.

21

Hay Doc, Danica is not in the same class as Simona De Silvestro, Simona would be the most competitive female driver I’ve seen in single seaters.
PK.

22

Will there be enough of them to fill up the grid?

23

And let’s not forget F1 is not completely a sport it’s a show where the drivers input and part of it probably get’s smaller by the years.

24

Hey, we could combine two of the favourite topics of this board – how about we mandate third cars in F1 which must be filled by a female driver? We get bigger grids and we get a more gender balanced sport. Win win.

25

The Kardashian girls wont fit into a cockpit.

But there in the midst of it all you got a athlete who can speak for both parties, at least that’s what’s been explained to me.

26

So currently the F1 teams have a mandate to run junior drivers for a certain number of events over course of the season…

What if a similar requirement was put forth to mandate each Team to conduct at least 1 sanctioned test session or race weekend session (at any point in the season) to be driven by a Female driver. Until we finally get a full-time female driver, anytime they employed a female would also count as junior driver credit too.

This would guarantee seat time and international exposure at the F1 level. It could be the same female driver getting that opportunity at every team, but then that’s at least 10 sessions for her to shine! Sometimes just giving someone that chance to prove themselves makes all the difference.

27

If a junior racer has the talent then he gets a certain number of drives already…whether or not that junior driver is male or female. To persondate that a junior driver is of a specific gender is rubbish.

28

i’m surprised it’s taken them so long to introduce a women only series. all the other sorting competitions beat them to it.

29

JAF1 aka Motorsports aka Carrier Pigeon F1 news …

Congrats to Russell on getting seat at Williams.
So will it be Ocon or McRussian money and average driver Sirotkin ?

30

just waiting for the press release…

31

As Joe Saward put it in his defence when questioned about his post…”read the Blog Terms and Conditions, this isn’t a news site, it’s a blog!”

…after which he immediately proceeded to post news about F1.

32

@ Sebee…So who’s the blogger?

33

Fairpoint Sebee Fairpoint 👍

34

I would love to watch a 14 year old girl zig-zag in front of Max V in a F1 race

Or even better overtake him (both end in up in the gravel) Would love to hear that explanation from Max:)

35

Guesses on what Max would be saying to himself inside his helmet?

36

I wouldn’t write it here. What he should say (if he’s smart) turn of the radio if you can:)

37

“I saw an opportunity to make a pass. She left it open, I saw the hole and I went for it. I misjudged the situation, she must not have seen me coming. No regrets.” –Max

38

with that kind of statement he’d end up in court, and i’d hope his racing suit was made of latex…protection you now!

oh goodness the innuendo….

39

“Just like a young man coming in for a quickie. I feel so unsatisfied.” Teddy KGB in Rounders.

40

LOL oh my !”#¤%&/() holy crap @RXtreme8, he would end up in court:)))

That would be he’s plea and the defence rest. Two years minimum, how many points to his license?

FIA makes a statement together with the stewards. Todt gets to give a speach again:)

41

It would be interesting at this juncture to get the perspectives of Monisha Kaltenborn and Claire Williams to see what they think? They would know best having/are running Formula 1 teams.

42

Monisha was ousted

43

The clue is in the article. Motorsport is one of the only sporting categories where sex is irrelevant.

There must be many more young men than women out there lacking in sponsorship to further their chosen career.

Then along comes this proposed series which will hand out 18 high profile drives to potential drivers, just as long as they are female.

Then we have the series itself. How are we to judge just how good these women are when they aren’t competing in a gender neutral field ?

It would have been much better to hold a qualifying day or two for any drivers without the means to further there career and assess the best 18, irrespective of gender.

Any girl who is genuinely good enough, will get a seat.

Perhaps the organisers are frightened that no female candidates will get a seat on a fair and equitable basis ? If so, they could always make 9 seats available for each sex and hold races in two heats, male and female. The best five or six from each heat would go on to the final race at each round.

At least that would be fair to everyone. What is proposed is most certainly not.

44

There is one BIG thing been missed in all this. Is it really a level playing field? It’s been posited that women have just as good a chance as men to make it in F1. The record does not bear that out… just the facts of history.

I don’t mean opportunities to get there. We could debate the hurdles that women might face that men don’t, such as blind prejudice, etc.

However, there have been women in F1 and what have they done? Lella Lombardi got half a point!

Wikipedia says, “(Half points were awarded for this race due to a shortened race distance, hence Lombardi received half a point instead of the usual one point.) As well as being the sole female driver to score points in Formula One, she is one of only two who qualified for a Formula One race (the other being compatriot Maria Teresa de Filippis) and the only driver with that career total.”

Is the prejudice really so great that no really good women have ever got to F1 (or anywhere near). Probably Danica Patrick is the closest, having won an Indy car race?

Again, Wikipedia says, “Achievements
Multiple firsts for women in American auto racing, including first to win an IndyCar Series race, first to clinch a pole position in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the most starts, laps led, and top-tens in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Highest finish by a woman in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. One of only 14 drivers to have led both races.” A pretty good record.

That makes her a decent Indy car driver.

But, I really wonder of there is a fundamental difference between the sexes that makes it harder for women? You can shoot me down in flames if you like. Just asking the question.

I’ve seem some excellent women (or girls as they were then). Jeanette Peak was described as ‘mustard’ by her team manager. She got into the top class of class one karting in the UK, and was no slouch. She had a test in a Cooper FF 1600 at Castle Coombe (small, local racing car builder with nothing to do with the famed F1 team or the Mini)! Despite a really good test, that’s about as far as she went….

45

It’s a business.

Say you are running a F2 team and have a driver bringing in fat coin. Do you put in another and give them fair shot at bettering the money man’s lap time and take their seat away?

And there you have it.

46

There is one thing that’s completely certain and has nothing to to with women in general.

Once F1 was a dangerous adventure. Today it’s not. Regardless races or seasons being competitive or in other areas not very exiting, this aspect was in the old day’s a very good selling point.

What will it be today or tomorrow. Parading their products in circles for an hour and half will not do, neighter will this dominance of one team.

LM with their investments, will get in troubble if that continues, no doubt

47

The most successful female Formula One driver was Lella Lombardi, who scored half a point in the shortened, rain-affected Spanish Grand Prix of 1975

Actually it was Desiré Wilson.

But that was the British Aurora F1 series.

Top Tags
SEARCH Innovation