After W Series was officially put up for sale in mid-September, people started wondering if there is a long-term future for the all-female racing series. The series fell under financial pressure last season which led to an early end to their exciting season. W Series was put into administration shortly after, causing them to abandon their 2023 season.
With one blow after the other, how much hope is there for W Series? It has always been hard for female racing series to come to the front of motorsport, especially without adequate support from Formula 1.Embed from Getty Images
W Series started racing in 2019 with the hopes to become the next big female racing series, as well as offer female racing drivers experience and opportunities to compete at higher levels of motorsport. In its second season, it joined the Formula 1 support calendar to widen its audience.
British female racing driver Jamie Chadwick won the W Series title in all three W Series seasons and has landed an opportunity to race in IndyCar and as a development driver for Williams Racing in Formula 1.
Although Chadwick has managed to progress in her career after W Series, it is still a concern that she will have to wait to enter F1. It is a largely competitive sport, no one denies that – but there have been far less talented drivers on the F1 grid than Jamie Chadwick.
Chadwick was supposedly guaranteed an F1 seat with Rodin, had their application been accepted by the FIA. However, not many teams bidding to compete in F1 make the cut. Some argue that more teams on the grid would make space for female racing drivers, while others don’t want F1 to end up with clusters of cars on the grid.
W Series is coming under more pressure as female racing series like F1 Academy get the full support of Formula 1. With Susie Wolff at the helm, F1 Academy is due to become a massive success. Having secured a direct partnership with Formula 1 teams, F1 Academy has the support and funding it needs to make a mark.
F1 Academy will now have a nominated driver from each Formula 1 team, creating a more direct pathway for these female drivers to enter Formula 1. In comparison to W Series, F1 Academy has a much stronger foundation that they can build on – which is a fantastic thing for female drivers.
Top Gear reported in June that many W Series drivers have been left empty-handed due to the series’ financial problems. Many drivers also failed to gather sponsors and funding to compete in the sport, like Naomi Schiff. Schiff eventually lost her W Series seat and joined the Sky Sports F1 team as a presenter.
Schiff told The Urban Journal about her struggles to find a seat, sharing that she had to rethink her path because she “wasn’t that young anymore”. Where F1 Academy fails former W Series drivers like Schiff is the age restriction as the series is aimed at young female drivers.
There are hopes that W Series will be able to make a comeback if they are bought out but hopes for a flourishing female racing series have turned to F1 Academy. Former W Series driver Alice Powell emphasised to The Guardian how important W Series was:
“That [administration] does not mean it failed because it has done a world of good in other areas. It has inspired and opened doors for many people that weren’t just in the championship, young fans and young people aspiring to take part in every area of the sport.”
Racing fans all over the world want to see talent brewing. Anyone who lives and breathes motorsport would love to see generational talents rising up the ranks, making their way to Formula 1. It would be amazing for not just female racing lovers, but motorsport fans everywhere if W Series finds its long-term future.