W Se­ries leads the search for women For­mula One su­per­stars

Sunday Times - - Sport International -

● A new mo­tor­sport se­ries is set to be launched in an at­tempt to find fe­male For­mula 1 stars. W Se­ries will start next year and has been backed by ma­jor names in F1, in­clud­ing 13-time grand prix win­ner David Coulthard and Red Bull de­sign engi­neer Adrian Newey.

It will of­fer a prize fund of $1.5m and free en­try for 18-20 com­peti­tors, who will be se­lected on merit af­ter tests and ap­praisals. The over­all win­ner will col­lect $500,000, with prize money down to 18th place.

Or­gan­is­ers aim to stage six 30-minute races at top cir­cuits in Europe, and fu­ture plans could see the se­ries ex­pand to the US, Asia and Aus­tralia.

“At the heart of W Se­ries’ DNA is the firm be­lief that women can com­pete equally with men in mo­tor­sport. How­ever, an all-fe­male se­ries is es­sen­tial in or­der to force greater fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion,” or­gan­is­ers said.

The last woman to start an F1 grand prix was Italy’s Lella Lom­bardi in 1976, but Coulthard says fe­male driv­ers can com­pete with their male coun­ter­parts.

“In or­der to be a suc­cess­ful rac­ing driver, you have to be skilled, de­ter­mined, com­pet­i­tive, brave and phys­i­cally fit, 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,” Coulthard said.

“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.

“That’s why an all-new all-fe­male sin­gle­seater mo­tor rac­ing se­ries is re­quired ... to es­tab­lish a com­pet­i­tive and con­struc­tive mo­tor­sport habi­tat in which our driv­ers will be able to equip them­selves with the nec­es­sary skill-set even­tu­ally to move on up to ex­ist­ing high-level main­stream rac­ing se­ries and com­pete with the best male driv­ers on equal terms.” —© The Daily Tele­graph, Lon­don

Jamie Chad­wick be­came the first woman to win a Bri­tish For­mula 3 race.

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