It has been over four decades since a woman last competed in Formula One, but a new all-female racing series has been launched to provide women drivers with a better pathway into the sport.
The “W Series,” which will launch in 2019, will pit up to 20 competitors in identical Formula 3 cars around some of Europe’s most famous race tracks.
The series, supported by long-time F1 driver David Coulthard, will be free to enter and participation will be awarded solely on merit and performances during a “vigorous” selection and testing process.
“At the heart of W Series’ DNA is the firm belief that women can compete equally with men in motorsport,” a statement said.
“However, an all-female series is essential in order to force greater female participation.
“W Series is therefore a mission-driven competition, the aim of which is not only to provide exciting racing for spectators and viewers on a global scale, but also to equip its drivers with the experience and expertise with which they may progress their careers, racing and honing their skills in W Series before eventually graduating to existing high-level mainstream racing series.”
A total prize fund of $1.5 million will be up for grabs, with the winner earning $500,000 and drivers all the way down the scale earning prize money.
The series is planning to expand in future seasons to feature races in America, Asia and Australia.
But the proposal has not been welcomed by all. Charlie Martin – who is hoping to become the first transgender competitor in the 24 hours of Le Mans – claims the series is “founded on segregation.”
“While it may create opportunities for some female drivers, it sends a clear message that segregation is acceptable,” she told CNN.