The W Series, motorsport’s female-only competition, is set to race alongside Formula One (F1) for the first time ever in 2020 following the announcement that it will feature on F1’s support race programme.
The events set to be featured will see the series travel to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas and Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez and as a result will expand the competitions calendar to eight races with the new editions serving as the final two events of the season – taking place on successive weekends in October alongside F1 qualifying sessions.
W Series chief executive Catherine Bond Muir stated: “Our two all-new races will follow six races on the DTM platform, making a very varied, extremely exciting and truly international eight-race championship, in eight countries across the globe.
“I’m particularly pleased that W Series will now stage races outside Europe, and the USA and Mexico are of course both very important new territories for us.
“A lot of work has gone into stitching the W Series-Formula One deal together, but above all I want to thank W Series’ drivers, the brave and talented young women who captured the imagination of the sporting world last summer. Mark my words: they’ll do so again this year, from May to October, all over the world.”
The announcement is a significant step in the right direction for the W Series, which was organised in 2019 with the intention of raising the profile of motorsport among women.
1975’s Spanish Grand Prix marked the last time a woman featured in the sport when Lella Lombard scored half a point with a sixth-place finish. The Series’ ultimate ambition is to rectify this and aid in the discovery of the next female F1 driver.
As a result of this ambition and the platform provided by the series, Jamie Chadwick, through her 2019 championship winning performances, earned a place as a development driver at the Williams F1 team – a role which she will continue in throughout 2020 alongside competing in this season’s W Series.
Ross Brawn, managing director of motorsport at Formula One, added: “In just one year, W Series has contributed significantly to increasing interest in the topic of diversity and inclusion in motorsport.
“We are convinced that our sport must offer equal opportunities for men and women to compete together – it is no coincidence that improving the diversity of the Formula One grid by supporting and promoting driver talent from under-represented backgrounds is one of our strategic objectives.
“The ability for the great crowds who traditionally attend the Austin and Mexico City Grands Prix to see these talented female drivers up close will definitely further raise the awareness of the importance of inclusion and diversity in motorsport.”
Racing on an F1 weekend is likely to enhance the W Series’ global viewing figures and will also bring it to the attention of thousands of additional spectators at the track, especially considering that races in Austin and Mexico City are among the best-attended on the F1 calendar.
The 2020 W Series season gets underway in Russia on 30 May, with inaugural champion Chadwick aiming to retain her title against an expanded grid of 20 drivers.
Full W Series 2020 schedule:
- 30 May – Russia (St Petersburg)
- 13 June – Sweden (Anderstorp)
- 27 June – Italy (Monza)
- 11 July – Germany (Norisring)
- 23 August – UK (Brands Hatch)
- 5 September – Netherlands (Assen)
- 24 October – USA (Austin)
- 31 October – Mexico (Mexico City)