LONDON-Organizers stated on Thursday that due to the strong interest of sponsors, this year’s all-female W series, which will support Formula One in eight Grand Prix races, will become a team-based championship starting in 2022.
However, the drivers will continue to race on the same machines and the vehicles will be prepared and maintained by W Series Engineering.
The second season of the series is from Austria’s Red Bull Sounded this weekend, its ultimate goal is to help women participate in Formula One racing, this is the first time since 1976, and currently provide drivers with a separate car.
Female racers are selected based on their merits. They do not need to pay any fees for their seats and compete for a total prize of 1.5 million US dollars.
In the new team structure, the driver pairing will represent many new sponsors including the German sportswear company Puma.
Catherine Bond Muir, the founder and CEO of the W series, told Reuters: “It changed the business and brought capital to create a sustainable business.”
She said that the cost of participating in the series of events is as high as tens of millions of dollars, but the cooperation with Formula One has provided sponsors with a global stage and a “mark of quality.”
“Looking forward, we will have the support of our partners. We can make long-term plans and better develop our business. For me, this may be our most important announcement,” she added.
“During the pandemic, women’s sports are more affected than men’s sports, and this is well documented. I think one of the great things we announced is that it shows that we are bucking the trend.”
Bondmuir said that there will be a team championship in the future, but not a team championship, because the W series wants to ensure a level playing field.
Teams are not allowed to charge drivers any fees or force them to provide sponsorship to ensure the drive, just like other youth series.
Bond Muir envisions a situation where the fleet can compete for the services of drivers, which will be encouraged.
“We want the drivers to make money, so if there is competition, they get the best drivers because they pay more. In my opinion, it’s all good,” she said.
“What we are helping to do is empower women drivers and make money for them. This year we still get bonuses… But if the team wants to come in and pay a lot of money for a particular driver, then move on then I personally welcome at this point.”
The first British W series champion Jamie Chadwick will represent the Veloce team with whom she has established a relationship.
After the series started in 2019 with the German Touring Car Championship (DTM), due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it did not participate in the race last year.
Bondmuir said that the focus of the first year was to explain the basic principles of the series, and the second year was about survival and trading with Formula One cars.
“This year is about financial security, now it must be about audience growth and the spread of the W series of brands globally,” she said.