Formula 1 starts women-only series
As Formula 1 looks to increase the number of females competing in the sport, a new women-only series has been launched.
W Series will start in 2019 in an attempt to find potential female Formula 1 stars and is backed by a number of major F1 names, including 13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard and Red Bull design chief Adrian Newey.
It has long been debated whether men and women could compete on equal terms, but Coulthard believes it’s possible but the existing structure had “not worked” in finding a top woman driver and things need to change.
“If you want a fundamental change in the outcome, you need a fundamental change in the process.
“W is a fundamental change in creating an opportunity to bring through female talent to the highest possible level.”
Italy’s Lella Lombardi was the last woman to start an F1 grand prix in 1976.
Adrian Newey, who has worked with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull, added: “I have a reasonable understanding of the constituents of a top-class driver’s necessary skill set and brute strength isn’t on that list.
“That being the case, I believe the reason why so few women have so far raced successfully at the highest levels against men is a lack of opportunity rather than a lack of capability.”
W Series will host six races around Europe, including one round in the UK, with 20 of the world’s leading female racing drivers to compete for a $1.5m (£1.14m) prize fund.
They will also use identical cars to the men, which will be provided and run by the championship.
Former Williams test driver, Susie Wolff said: “My view on this, and I know that this is the shared position of the organisations I work with, is that we should continue to encourage and create opportunities for women to compete on the same level as men.
“We fundamentally believe that the best opportunity to identify top female talent is by facilitating a dynamic where more women can compete and rise to the top in a mixed competition on equal terms.”
The championship is free to enter, and competitors will be selected through a programme that assesses their abilities.
The winner will receive $500,000 (£381,000) to help further her career, as well as support and advice from the experts employed by the series.