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Motorsport reacts to announcement of all women racing series

Prominent motorsport figures have reacted to the news that a new series specifically for women will begin in 2019.

News broke on Wednesday morning of ‘W Series Racing’ – a series specifically for selected women to race in F3-level machinery free of charge, for a prize of up to half a million dollars.

It’s a controversial move, as there is no limitation against entry of women in other feeder categories, and plenty of motorsport figureheads have spoken on social media about their opinion.

Former F1 driver Pedro de La Rosa said: “I welcome and applaud the inauguration of W Series, which looks set to be a game-changer for female racing drivers globally. The journey from junior karting to Formula 1 is obviously an extremely difficult one for all drivers – male as well as female – but history tells us that it has been hardest of all for girls who, despite their talent, haven’t been able to graduate in sufficient numbers from junior karting to senior car racing. So I very much hope and expect that W Series will change that, and I look forward to seeing the results of this exciting innovation unfold.”

British racing driver Pippa Mann, currently racing in indyCar, said: “What a sad day for motorsport. Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them. I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backwards take place in my life time.”

Current Haas driver Kevin Magnussen spoke of his support: “When I was karting as a boy, I raced a few girls who were talented and quick. But there weren’t many of them – a lot more boys than girls go karting and that’s a fact – so I welcome W Series and hope it’ll help female racers progress their careers. I’ll be watching closely!”

Charlie Martin, British Racing driver with Ginetta, said: “I support initiatives designed to encourage women into but I don’t think segregation is the answer – surely equality is the goal we are pushing for”  

Sky’s Natalie Pinkham weighed in by saying: “I’m so excited about the launch of W Series. Talented female drivers have traditionally found it difficult to get on in the world of motorsport, through no fault of their own. I’m therefore delighted that W Series has embraced their cause by inaugurating a free-to-enter all-female race series that will enable a much larger number of women to race, learn, improve and of course win. Progress has been made, but more needs to be done. After all, a woman last started a Formula 1 Grand Prix 42 long years ago. Now, boosted by the advantage of two or three seasons in W Series, and all the learning that will entail, I truly believe a woman will win a Formula 1 Grand Prix at some point in the near future. I long for a world where my daughter will have exactly the same opportunities as my son, and W Series means we’re a step closer to achieving that in motorsport.”

 Other comments from the W Series website:

John Watson, former Formula 1 driver

“I started 152 Grands Prix between 1973 and ’85 and won five of them. I raced with some of the greatest drivers of the era – Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Mario Andretti, Jody Scheckter, Alan Jones, Nelson Piquet, Keke Rosberg, Alain Prost, champions all – but I also raced with Lella Lombardi, who in ’75 became the first and so far only woman to score a point in a Grand Prix, half a point actually because she finished sixth but half points were awarded owing to the race having been red-flagged after just 29 of the scheduled 75 laps. It was a topsy-turvy race, marred by the tragic death of five spectators who were hit by a flying car, and I finished eighth, two places behind Lella. If you’d told me then that 42 years later Lella would still be the most recent female driver to start a Grand Prix, and the only one to trouble the scorers, I’d have said you were mad. But, shockingly, it’s true. W Series aims to address that, and I heartily endorse that ambition. I firmly believe that, given the right opportunities, women are eminently capable of racing on level terms against men, and, once W Series has given a select group of women those right opportunities, I look forward to seeing it finally come to pass.”

Gerhard Berger, former Formula 1 driver

“Some of the greatest sports stars in the world are women, and that has been the case for a long time. However, in motorsport, the number of women who have reached the winners’ podium in top international categories is really, really small. I want to see women one day race cars at the highest levels against men. W Series will give female drivers the necessary skills and experience that they currently lack in order to raise their performance to the level required to compete against men at the highest levels, and I’ll definitely therefore be watching the W Series races closely and with great interest.”

Stéphane Kox, Racer

“W Series sounds like it’s going to be a really positive addition to the global motorsport scene, and it’ll clearly be a big help to ambitious female racing drivers everywhere. Having spoken to the W Series organisation, it’s clear that they understand that we women drivers aspire to race. Speaking for myself, I want to be a racing driver at the highest level possible and to be able to race against the best drivers, men and women. In order to be able to do so, it’s important that first we gain the kind of experience that W Series will provide.”

Vicky Piria, Racer

“I’m very excited about the launch of W Series, which is an extremely positive development for women drivers. W Series will be an important stepping-stone that will give us valuable experience and learning opportunities, as well as great racing, and will provide an excellent springboard from which we can progress our careers onwards and achieve our ultimate ambitions.”

Tatiana Calderon, Racer

“Having raced for more than a decade in karting, Formula 3, GP3 and World Series among others, but having been a very small minority in getting that far in motorsport, I know how difficult it is for female drivers to get opportunities to progress their careers. Hopefully this series help provide those opportunities to some young rising female talent and eventually allow the best to prove that we can compete at the same level as men.”

Alice Powell, Racer

“Climbing the motorsport ‘ladder’ has always been difficult for all drivers, but perhaps even more so for women. W Series, which will offer free-of-charge racing with prize money for a select number of women starting next year, is therefore a really positive development. It’s also an important means to an end: a stepping stone for female drivers on their journeys from the lower formulae to more senior single-seater series, taking the skills they’ve learned in W Series on the way.”

Courtney Crone, Racer

“Although I’m only 17 I’ve been racing for a long time – I started when I was only four years old. I won the Formula Speed 2.0 class in the Formula Car Challenge Series this year, winning nine out of 14 races. I’m ambitious, as you’d expect, and I obviously want my racing career to be a successful one. For that reason I’m really excited to hear about W Series, which will be a big help for all female racing drivers I think. To be a success in racing you need natural ability but you also need the opportunity to learn. W Series will give young female drivers that opportunity.”

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Thomas Maher

Co-owner, Chief Editor and a journalist for FormulaSpy.com - Ireland's only accredited F1 & Formula E website. Also working in the Irish radio broadcasting industry. Donations: PayPal - paypal.me/thomasmaheronf1 ETH/ERC20 - 0x9d0b8071180AAcB0bD5f0c1d43281768C73e8763

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