WHAT REALLY MATTERS: THE ‘WSERIES’ IS HERE
Whats round the corner..?
Here’s fact for ya …. The number of women across the globe racing in single-seater series can be counted on one hand. More men have walked on the moon than women have raced cars at such a level.
Something BIG is happening in motorsport and it is set to change the current landscape. The W Series – the debuting women’s-only motor racing championship, has began last weekend, in Hockenheim, Germany. Leading female drivers in the world lined up to compete, amid global support (including that of ex-McLaren racer David Coulthard) and controversy alike. The latter sparked by Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport consultant and a former grand prix driver, when he cited gender limitations and whether women could cope physically if they ever did reach the coveted Formula One grid. Criticism also comes from a number of female drivers who, understandably, feel the segregation is unnecessary. Equally, however, it seems clear that something positive will be achieved only by putting women on the track on a public stage.
Whatever the public or private opinion, the eyes of the world were watching when eighteen racers lined up ready to make an impact and of course, history, as they collectively took this much needed next step in racing. Five of the eighteen women are British, and this includes Esmee Hawkey. At just 20 years old, Esmee is an exceptional talent whose advancements have been swift – from becoming a vice-champion in her very first season driving GT cars and later in 2017, when she was chosen as a finalist in the Porsche GB Junior class. From a long list of 55, Esmee has succeeded in claiming a place in the final 18. Also competing in the series is Jamie Chadwick, who, in 2015, became the first female driver to win a British GT championship. Last year, Jamie went on to a British F-3 win. Inspiring stuff from these tenacious young sportswomen.
The first round in Hockenheim saw Chadwick reign supreme, securing 25 points for her win. In just 30 seconds and after just a handful of corners, Chadwick regained a prior lead holding off Alice Powell, beating her to victory by 1.3 seconds. With Powell and Marta Garcia crossing the line in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, the season of 6 races looks set to thrill and intensify.
“We believe we have the best female drivers in the world driving in W Series and we are going to put the world’s spotlight on them.”
A potentially male dominated sport, the birth of the W Series could ultimately help to break up the male monopoly of Formula One and usher in an essential transformation and equal gender advancements in motor racing. Catherine Bond-Muir, CEO of the all-female championship certainly considers this to be the dawn of big changes.
“We believe we have the best female drivers in the world driving in W Series and we are going to put the world’s spotlight on them. Hopefully, we can make stars of our drivers and attract more sponsorship so they can go into international Formula Three, Formula Two and who knows, into Formula One.”
Over 100 women applied to compete in the series, which offers £1.2 million in prize money.
This much is clear. The revolutionary W Series will seek to correct the deepseated gender imbalance and allow a greater number of females into the sport, moving the goals closer for women of younger and future generations to come.
Watch this space! Just be sure to tune in on time, as these ladies won’t be hanging around!
W Series races continue with race 2 at Zolder, Belgium on 17-18 May
Race 3. 7-8 June, Misano, Italy
Race 4. 5-6 July, Norisring, Germany
Race 5. 19-20 July, Assen, The Netherlands
The last race of the season takes place on 10-11 August at Brands Hatch, UK
Look out for Esmee Hawkey in our next issue, ‘Spirit and Adventure.’
Words by Leonie Watkins
Photos from Wseries