The all-female racing championship W Series will be aired on UK’s Channel 4 television station this year.
The series’ inaugural season begins at German’s Hockenheim circuit on May 3-4. The championship grid consists of 18 female drivers who were selected from a pool of 28 after evaluation tests in Almeria, Spain earlier this year.
W Series hopes to give its competitors the exposure they currently lack in motor racing. While being set up for one gender, it is also unique as it does not ask for its drivers to bring sponsorship money to secure a race seat — all 18 drivers earned their spot on the grid on the basis of the on-track evaluation process.
Every driver will race in equal machinery, the Tatuus T-318 car. There is a prize money purse of $1.5 million, $500,000 of which will go to the winner.
W Series’ ultimate aim is to help propel a female driver up the ranks of racing to Formula One. As its website states, in the 1000 races of the Formula One world championship, just two women have started a race — Maria Teresa de Filippis, who started three in the 1950s, and Lella Lombari, who accumulated 12 starts in the 1970s, the last of which came in 1976. Several women have come close since — Susie Wolff tested for Williams on four occasions between 2014 and 2015 — but none have made it to the grid.
After the opening race at Hockenheim, the series has events in Zolder (Belgium), Misano (Italy), Norisring (Germany), Assen (Netherlands) and Brands Hatch (Great Britain). The final race takes place on August 10-11.