These days, it's not just about Formula 1; there are a ton of different open-wheel racing series that currently exist. Some of the other major series include IndyCar, Formula E, Formula 2 and 3, Formula Renault, and Formula Ford. However, there's a new up-and-coming racing series that's starting to make waves, and that's none other than the W Series.
If you haven't yet heard of it, the W Series is an all-female racing series that has existed since 2019. The purpose of the W Series is to give women drivers an easier shot at breaking into Formula 1.
Today, we'll be talking all about the W Series and going over its history, the current roster of drivers and teams, and the cars used in this series.
For a while now, there has been some criticism directed over the lack of women in Formula 1. However, the case isn't that women aren't allowed to participate in Formula 1; there are no rules specifying that racers have to be of a certain gender, and in theory, any woman could become a Formula 1 driver at any point.
That being said, while there's nothing explicitly prohibiting women from taking part in Formula 1, the sport hasn't always provided a welcoming environment for women. Things are certainly a lot better than they used to be, but there's definitely room for improvement.
Traditionally, driving a race car has been considered a "man's sport", and there hasn't really been a lot of acceptance in Formula 1 of women drivers, particularly among those who have been involved in the sport for a long time. This is despite the fact that many women have proven themselves to be skilled race car drivers throughout the years.
Ultimately, however, the main reason why so few women are able to take part in Formula 1 is because of a lack of opportunity. To have even a shot at taking part in Formula 1, you have to start your racing career from a very early age. Most of the current Formula 1 roster has been involved in racing for most of their lives.
As you can probably imagine, thanks to the fact that Formula 1 has historically been such a male-dominated sport, this means that few girls and young women are encouraged to actually try and take part in it.
The older you get, the fewer opportunities you'll have to join Formula 1, so by not encouraging young women to make an attempt at a racing career when they're young, this drastically lowers the chance that they'll ever be able to get involved with racing in the future.
Getting started in Formula 1 is also prohibitively expensive for most people, men and women alike. A sizeable entry fee of over $500,000 is required to participate, and any teams looking to race will also need to be backed by a sponsor. Unless you've been racing for a long time or are extremely rich, this means that Formula 1 is inherently kind of an exclusionary sport.
The W Series aims to change all this by making open-wheel racing more accessible to a wider variety of people. Acceptance to the W Series is entirely based on a driver's speed and skill; no entry fees or sponsorships are required. The series also provides a dedicated space for women to showcase their driving talents.
Of course, the series has not been without some controversy as well; the main criticism of the W Series is that it serves as just another way to further segregate female drivers from male drivers, rather than giving them an opportunity to compete on the same level. However, this is certainly a point that is up for debate.
The W Series was first introduced in 2018, although the first season of the W Series didn't actually happen until the next year. The first W Series consisted of six races, all held at various locations in Europe. This first season took place alongside the 2019 DTM season as a supporting race series.
The 2020 W Series was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a virtual racing series hosted on the racing sim iRacing was held instead. The W Series returned for 2021, however, and consisted of eight races which ran alongside the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Currently, the series is being dominated by Jamie Chadwick, who has won the championship both years that the W Series was actually held.
Unlike Formula 1, where each team gets to build their own chassis and select an engine of their choice from a few different suppliers, all of the cars that take part in the W Series are the same. This helps put all of the drivers on more equal footing and really allows them to showcase their skills.
Every racer in the W Series drives the Tatuus-Alfa Romeo F3 T-318, which is built to Formula 3 specifications. These cars weigh 565 kg, and put out about 270 horsepower from a 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder. This is a far cry from the 900+ horsepower that Formula 1 cars make, but it's still enough for them to be pretty quick.
The current W Series roster consists of nine teams and a total of 21 drivers. Most of the teams have two drivers, with the exception of the Puma W Series team which has five.
While the W Series is still based entirely in Europe as of right now, the drivers taking part hail from all over the world. Taking part in the W Series are drivers from the U.K., South Africa, Australia, Canada, Japan, Spain, Germany, Holland, and several other countries besides.
Here's the breakdown of each of the teams in the W Series and the drivers belonging to each:
|Racing X||Alice Powell, Jessica Hawkins|
|PUMA||Marta Garcia, Gosia Rdest, Abbi Pulling, Caitlin Wood, Naomi Schiff|
|Veloce Racing||Jamie Chadwick, Bruna Tomaselli|
|Sirin Racing||Miki Koyama, Vicky Piria|
|Bunker Racing||Fabienne Wohlwend, Sabré Cook|
|M. Forbes Motorsport||Ayla Agren, Beitske Visser|
|Ecurie W||Abbie Eaton, Emma Kimilainen|
|Scuderia W||Belen Garcia, Sarah Moore|
|Academy||Nerea Marti, Irina Sidorkova|
(Cover photo: Jen_ross83, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)