2020 has been a difficult year for women in motorsport. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the W Series’ 2020 season was cancelled.
In August, Williams’ Team Principal Claire Williams stepped down from her role, after years of inspiring young women to pursue careers in an industry so dominated by men. With such an influential figure gone from our screens, and the lack of any W Series championship driving this year, things were looking bleak.
However, that has all changed this week with the announcement of W Series, the single seat racing championship exclusively for female drivers, signing a contract with Formula One for the 2021 season and beyond. Eight races in the 2021 W Series calendar will be Formula One support races.
The news came following the announcement of Formula One’s 2021 season, with 23 races scheduled in locations old and new. As a long-term fan of motorsport, the news of the W Series-Formula One contract excites me beyond words as I cannot help but consider what this could mean for the future of women in motorsport.
News of this contract with Formula One is sure to continue the rising popularity of W Series
W Series was established in 2019 by Chief Executive Officer Catherine Bond Muir, with the goal of providing female racing drivers with opportunities and prospects in the highest branches of motorsport. The inaugural season was a success, with W Series gaining international popularity among motorsport fans. The unfortunate cancellation of the 2020 season, though disappointing for fans and drivers alike, has turned out not to be a setback, and the news of this contract with Formula One is sure to continue the rising popularity of W Series. The significance of this deal is not lost on Bond Muir, who stated the “global reach, impact and influence [of the W Series] will be increased significantly”.
So, what could this mean for women in motorsport over the next few years? Now that W Series is eligible for FIA Super License points, it is not entirely out of the question that we could be seeing a female driver in Formula One in the next few years. Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsport, Formula One, spoke about the significance of the contract, understanding how important it is “to give everyone the chance to reach the highest levels of our sport”. This new contract could soon make that a reality.
A young girl watching the Grand Prix every weekend sees her brother on the screen but not herself, and subconsciously she creates a barrier that tells her she is not meant to be there
A few weeks ago, I was asked by a friend of mine why there are no female drivers in Formula One. My honest answer was that I did not know, but after some consideration I came to the conclusion that the lack of female representation in Formula One was both the cause and the symptom. A young girl watching the Grand Prix every weekend sees her brother on the screen but not herself, and subconsciously she creates a barrier that tells her she is not meant to be there. But now, with the news of this groundbreaking contract between W Series and Formula One, the possibilities are endless.
That same young girl watches Jamie Chadwick cross the finish line as W Series champion and decides that maybe she could do that too.
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