A push for women to break the glass ceiling of racing will begin next year. The new W Series will be an international motorsport series for women that aims to find the female Formula One champion.
Over the past two decades women have had success on a national stage in the top levels of Nascar and IndyCar racing. In contrast, the international stage has been devoid of women since 1976, when Lella Lombardi started a Formula One race. Men tend to dominate the industry in all aspects, including driving, maintenance, and vehicle creation.
Catherine Bond Muir, a British sports lawyer and corporate financier, conceived the W Series three years ago while she was on maternity leave. According to Muir, other sports that allow men and women to compete equally simultaneously run segregated events. These events are meant to give women the opportunity to increase their numbers of participants and get their foot in the door of the major events that men can more easily enter.
The W Series will be free for women to enter. It will begin in May 2019 and consist of 30-minute races on the most famous European circuits, many of which have hosted Formula One grand prix for decades. In future series, the races will expand to North America, Asia, and Australia.
Participating racers will driver the Tatuus model, which is often used in Formula Three races. Formula Three is considered a stepping stone to Formula One. Modern Formula One vehicles can accelerate to 62 mph in under two seconds and hit a top speed of over 200 mph.
When compared to a vehicle that can drive on any roadway, these vehicles reach intense speeds. While still impressive, the 2016 Hyundai Genesis Coupe can go 60 mph in just over five seconds with a top speed of 151 mph.
The racers in the W Series will be able to build up to Formula One speeds when using the Tatuus model, and they will also receive a monetary prize to help them get to Formula One. The total prize fund for the W Series will be $1.5 million and the overall winner will receive $500,000. The remaining prize money will be awarded to nearly all participants. There will be an estimated 20 drivers racing and the money will be distributed down to 18th place in the final placements.
According to David Coulthard, winner of 13 grands prix in Formula One, female drivers tend to hit the glass ceiling at the Formula Three level due to a lack of funding, not a lack of talent. The prize money is meant to boost that funding for talented female drivers around the world.