FIA Launch All-Women Racing Series to Find Next F1 Star

Rex Christensen
October 11, 2018

The idea of an all-female series is not new but has been controversial in the past, with top women racers adamant they want to compete against the men rather than be separated.

Scheduled to start in 2019, the W Series arrives with the backing of multiple Grand Prix victor David Coulthard, designer Adrian Newey, former McLaren and Manor team manager Dave Ryan, and journalist/communications professional Matt Bishop.

The series will be free to enter and all participants will undertake a "rigorous pre-selection programme" that involves on-track testing, simulator appraisal and technical engineering tests.

On Wednesday it was announced a new Formula 3 level championship would be created with the sole goal of hosting female talent on the grid in order to increase the level of women in motorsport at the top level.

The series is planning to expand in future seasons to feature races in America, Asia and Australia.

Initial reactions have been mixed.

In revealing the league, Coulthard said he believes women can compete with men on equal terms but needed a platform to show it without the expectation of providing funding and sponsorship. "However, an all-female series is essential in order to force greater female participation", organizers said in a statement. The Scotsman hopes W Series helps women break the "glass ceiling" they often encounter in the current racing pyramid.

This was reinforced by Coulthard.

Coulthard explained his involvement in the series by saying "In order to be a successful racing driver, you have to be skilled, determined, competitive, fearless and physically fit, but you don't have to possess the kind of super-powerful strength levels that some sports require". Many sports in which women and men compete equally also run segregated events purely to increase the numbers of women who participate. "And that's why I'm so pleased to be involved in W Series, to do what I can 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 and indeed eventually beat their male counterparts".

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"What a sad day for motorsport", she said.

"Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them", she said on Twitter on Wednesday.

"I wrote this past year when this series contacted me, trying to prey on the fact I do not have the funding to compete full time without them".

European F3 driver Sophia Floersch expressed a similar opinion, adding: "I agree with the arguments - but I totally disagree with the solution", said the German.

"One more tweet on this subject".

"It was a topsy-turvy race, marred by the tragic death of five spectators who were hit by a flying auto, and I finished eighth, two places behind Lella".

The victor of the category will earn $500,000 to help fund her next step up the racing ladder to F1.

Female drivers have earned some degree of visibility - and a considerable amount of success - in the US, however only two women have ever lined up on a Formula 1 grid.

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