W Series cancels 2020 season; plans F1 support races in 2021

LONDON: The W Series has announced it has been forced to cancel all races in 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak – but says plans are already in place for a "bigger and better" season in 2021.

The decision not to proceed with W Series’ eight-race on-track programme for 2020 – which was scheduled to start in St Petersburg, Russia, on May 30 and finish in Mexico City, Mexico, on October 31 – has been taken in consultation with the FIA, F1, DTM and W Series’ partners and suppliers.

The single seater championship for female drivers began last year with Williams development driver Jamie Chadwick crowned its first ever champion. The second season was originally set to kick off last month and would have included two support races for Formula 1 Grands Prix, but in a statement released on Thursday, organisers confirmed the series would be put on hold until 2021.

CEO Catherine Bond Muir said: “After the resounding success of W Series’ debut season in 2019, our decision not to stage on-track races until 2021 is not one that has been taken lightly.

“However, we are already working on an exciting new W Series race calendar for 2021, and we are delighted to be able to confirm that W Series races will feature on the support cards of a number of Formula 1 Grands Prix next year, including the 2021 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas and the 2021 Mexican Grand Prix at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

“W Series is a global movement that exists to support the careers of female racing drivers everywhere, and to foster interest in and enthusiasm for motor racing among girls and women all over the world. The 18 women who had qualified to race in the 2020 W Series represent 12 different countries, and the eight circuits on which they were due to race this year are located in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America and Central America. Delivering an international calendar of the kind that W Series requires, so as to take W Series’ diversity and inclusion message to girls and women globally, while prioritising during a global pandemic the health and safety of our drivers, our staff and the many other people who make W Series events such a success, requires resource at a level beyond the scope of a brave new start-up such as W Series.

“However, now that we have taken the very difficult but ultimately unavoidable decision to end any uncertainty surrounding our 2020 plans, we will focus our energies clearly on 2021, when we will resume our on-track racing programme, bigger and better than ever before.

“In the meantime, this year, we remain committed to developing our drivers and entertaining our loyal fans all over the world. To that end, we are progressing with our exciting and innovative new W Series Esports League, which will go live on June 11 2020. In addition, our brilliant management team – including 13-time F1 Grand Prix winner David Coulthard and our hugely experienced Racing Director Dave Ryan – will continue to provide our drivers with invaluable career advice and support.”