The organizers of W series, a women-only single-seater championship launching in May 2019, have published a long-list of more than 50 drivers who are up for a position on the 18-car grid.
The racing series, which “targets gender imbalance in motorsport” and “aims to create future female role models and champions”, will be free to enter for selected drivers and carries a US$1.5m prize fund, US$500,000 of which will be awarded to the winner. W Series will also fund travel and subsistence costs to level the playing field as much as possible.
Despite the criticism that the initiative has incurred since its announcement, it has received more than 100 applications from 30 countries. “We are thrilled but perhaps not surprised by the response,” said Catherine Bond Muir, CEO of W Series. “Even today there is a massive gender imbalance in motorsport and W Series is taking the first step to correct that. Drivers from all over the world have stepped forward, so it’s clear that with the right framework we can make the changes this sport desperately needs.”
In two months, the 50 candidates on the long-list will undergo three days of on-and-off-track trials, including fitness tests and psychometric profiling, as well as multiple driving skill assessments.
David Coulthard, Le Mans winner Alex Wurz and W Series racing director Dave Ryan will be among the judges whittling the long-list down to 18 competitors. Unusually for a series promoting gender equality in motorsport, no female judges have been named as of yet.
“We designed W Series specifically to shine a light on female talent right around the world,” said David Coulthard, who also chairs the W Series Advisory Board, “and I can’t wait to be part of the next stage and to see some of that talent in action.”
All drivers will use the same 2019 Tatuus T-318 open-wheel car, which is homologated to FIA F3 2018 specification and uses a four-cylinder turbocharged 270bhp-engine, coupled to a Sadev SL-R 82 six-speed paddle-shift transmission.
The full long-list of candidates can be viewed on W Series’ website.