OK, so what is the W Series?
The W Series is the first all-female single-seater motorsport competition in the world. It has been created to promote the best women drivers in motorsport, with the ultimate aim of delivering the first female Formula 1 World Champion.
Led by chief executive Catherine Bond Muir, the W Series also includes ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard and legendary design engineer Adrian Newey as board members.
A substantial $1.5 million prize fund is on offer, with the championship being free to enter.
📺 Want to watch today’s action? Check out https://t.co/ofMtVkf1Tf
— W Series (@WSeriesRacing) May 4, 2019
Does motorsport need an all-female championship in 2019?
The organisers of the W Series believe an all-female competition is needed to help fast-track the best women drivers to Formula 1, and that a gender-specific championship is the most effective way to do so.
Whatever your opinion, what cannot be denied is that female drivers are underrepresented in top-level motorsport. For example, only five women have entered Formula 1 races since the championship began in 1950. The last female to actually start a Grand Prix was Lella Lombardi in 1976!
Although other series such as IndyCar and NASCAR have seen more recent, and regular, female entrants, there is still a clear gender imbalance in motorsport.
The hope is also that a high-profile competition like the W Series will encourage girls to consider careers in engineering and science subjects linked to racing.
How were the W Series drivers chosen?
More than 100 drivers applied to enter the 2019 W Series, then whittled down to 18 by a comprehensive selection process.
A total of 54 contenders were invited to an extensive series of on- and-off-track challenges to gain a place. This included tests of driving skills, fitness appraisals, and even psychometric evaluations.
The 18 chosen drivers will be competing for championship glory, and $500,000 for the overall winner. All competitors will receive financial prizes wherever they finish in the championship.
Who are the British contenders in the W Series?
Although 13 nationalities are represented in the 2019 W Series, British drivers account for five of the coveted 18 seats.
Jamie Chadwick was the first female driver to win a British GT Championship, and the first woman to win a British Formula 3 race.
Esmee Hawkey has raced Porsches in the UK GT Cup, and also competes in the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain.
Undertaking stunt driving duties for the Fast and Furious Live stadium show is just one career highlight for Jessica Hawkins, along with racing in the Mini Challenge UK.
Alice Powell was the first female driver to win a Formula Renault race, and also won the 2014 Asian Formula Renault Championship.
Finally, Yorkshire-based Sarah Moore has already competed in 132 races, and won the 2009 Ginetta Junior Championship, becoming the first woman to do so.
What cars do they use in W Series?
All drivers will use equal-spec Tatuus F3 T-318 single-seater racers, featuring a turbocharged 1.8-litre engine and six-speed sequential gearbox.
Slick tyres will be used, with the cars also featuring adjustable aerodynamic wings and spoilers. Just like in Formula 1, a HALO safety device is fitted over the open cockpit.
Where do races in the W Series take place?
For 2019, the W Series has secured a prestigious spot supporting six European rounds of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters Championship.
This means racing at famous tracks such as Hockenheim, Misano, and Brands Hatch. Plans for future seasons include expanding the W Series to include Asia and the Americas.
Race week 1⃣
Race preview 1⃣
— W Series (@WSeriesRacing) April 30, 2019
What format do W Series races follow?
W Series race weekends will see driver undertake two free practice sessions on the Friday, before qualifying on Saturday morning.
The race itself takes place on Saturday afternoon, lasting for around 30 minutes.
As in Formula 1, the top 10 finishers will each score championship points.
How can I watch W Series on TV?
W Series organisers have been prolific in securing primetime TV coverage for this important new championship. In the UK, this means free-to-air live HD coverage of every W Series race on Channel 4.
Did you catch our new ad on @Channel4? We think it’s pretty cool. 😎
— W Series (@WSeriesRacing) April 27, 2019
Lee McKenzie, who has previously reported on Formula 1 for BBC and Channel 4, will be lead anchor for W Series coverage. Commentary will be provided by Claire Cottingham, with David Coulthard as co-commentator.
Ted Kravitz will be the dedicated pitlane reporter for the W Series, continuing his established F1 role.
W Series 2019 Calendar
|1||Hockenheimring, Germany||4th May|
|2||Circuit Zolder, Belgium||18th May|
|3||Misano World Circuit, Italy||8th June|
|4||Norisring, Germany||6th July|
|5||Assen TT Circuit, Netherlands||20th July|
|6||Brands Hatch, United Kingdom||11th August|