catherine bond muir, david coulthard, f1, Formula One, jamie chadwick, w series

W Series and F1 agree to women’s races at U.S. and Mexican Grands Prix

LONDON — W Series organizers say they have moved a step closer to getting a woman driver into Formula One after announcing on Thursday a deal to be on the support program for this year’s U.S. and Mexican Grands Prix.

Conceived as a platform to help women gain experience to compete with men further up the motorsport ladder, the all-female series started last year with six races in Europe alongside the DTM German Touring Car championship.

“In just one year, W Series has contributed significantly to increasing interest in the topic of diversity and inclusion in motorsport,” Ross Brawn, Formula One’s managing director for motorsport, said in a statement.

“We are convinced that our sport must offer equal opportunities for men and women to compete together,” added the Briton.

“It is no coincidence that improving the diversity of the F1 grid by supporting and promoting driver talent from under-represented backgrounds is one of our strategic objectives.”

Formula One has not had a female racer line up on the starting grid since 1976, but W Series chief executive Catherine Bond Muir told reporters the new deal was of crucial importance.

“Progressing within motorsport requires people to have access to a lot of money,” she said. “You need the support and the sponsorship as well as the talent.

“I think what this will give our drivers is a much bigger and better platform in which to promote themselves… so they will be able to attract more sponsorship.

“I think we are already starting to achieve our ambitions. We are closer to getting women into Formula One.”

Bond Muir said there could be further expansion into Asia next year, with Formula One’s season-opener in Australia still a possibility.

“We’ve always said we have very bold and ambitious plans to expand across the world. In our first year we purposely stayed in Europe because we didn’t want to expand too quickly,” she explained.

“I think these two races represent a sensible expansion in 2020 and hopefully we will expand across the other side of the world towards Asia in 2021.”

Bond Muir said she wanted, however, to avoid big gaps between races on the calendar.

This year’s series champion will earn $500,000 but also acquire 15 points towards the 40 needed for a Formula One superlicence over a three-year period.

The new races at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez will be on successive Saturdays when Formula One qualifying is the main draw.

The Formula One title has been decided at one or other of the circuits in four of the last five years and both have space on support programs without the usual junior series.

The 2019 W Series title was won by Britain’s Jamie Chadwick who is also a development driver for the Williams F1 team.

Former F1 racer David Coulthard, who competed in 246 grands prix between 1994 and 2008, is chairman of the W Series advisory board.

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jamie chadwick, w series

Jamie Chadwick, W Series winning driver, will compete in Asian F3

LONDON — Jamie Chadwick, winner of this year’s inaugural all-female W Series, will race in the Asian F3 championship that starts in Malaysia on Dec. 14, the Absolute Racing team said on Monday.

The 15-race series, which also ends at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit, includes rounds in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Thailand between December and February with three races at each location.

The FIA-sanctioned regional championship, like next year’s W Series, also offers points towards the Super License that drivers need to graduate to Formula One.

“It is important for me to use this series as part of my testing and development program to ensure that I am race-fit for whatever 2020 throws at me,” said Chadwick, who will also be returning to the W Series next year.

“Due to other commitments, I will only get my first opportunity to drive the car at the opening race in Sepang next week, so it will be a steep learning curve.

“But that’s all part of the process, and I can’t wait to get back out on the track,” added the 21-year-old, who served as a Williams Formula One development driver this year.

The Briton, who banked $500,000 for winning the W Series, which uses F3 cars, will miss pre-season testing due to being one of four finalists in the Aston Martin BRDC Autosport Young Driver of the Year award that will be announced in London on Sunday.

The driver who wins the prestigious award gets a test in a Red Bull Formula One car plus 200,000 pounds ($256,000).

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