W Series, the single-seater championship dedicated to women have announced a shortlist of drivers that will be considered for the 18 available seats next year.
The series which will run a Tatuus F3 T-318, in line with the other Regional Formula 3’s next season, had received over 100 applicants, with 55 drivers selected on its shortlist from 25 countries.
Of these 55, there are five from the UK, including Sarah Moore and British F3 race winner Jamie Chadwick. The group have an average age of 23.7, with nine being teenagers and the oldest 33. Elsewhere, international racers including former Renault Development Driver Carmen Jorda, U.S.F2000 driver Sabre Cook and Carrie Schreiner, who will test for the HWA Racelab Formula E team next month, have also made the list.
Full list can be found on their website.
In two months the drivers will go through a series of rigorous fitness, psychometric profiling and skill tests with former F1-drivers David Coulthard and Alexander Wurz amongst the judging panel. The three-day process will include a variety of challenges on-and-off track.
London-based CEO Catherine Bond Muir said; “Even today there is a massive gender imbalance in motorsport and W Series is making 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.”
“Not only is W Series a free-to-enter competition, but a total prize fund of $1,500,000 has been assigned, with the overall series winner taking $500,000. W Series will also fund travel and subsistence costs, which opens the competition to drivers from all economic backgrounds across the world.”
Six drivers of these drivers, Alice Powell (UK), Shea Holbrook (USA), Naomi Schiff (Belgium), Emma Kimilainen (Finland), Stephane Kox (Netherlands) and Vicky Piria (Italy) will appear at the Autosport Awards this December to represent the series.
There has however continued to be criticism, most notably from British Indycar driver Pippa Mann, who took to social media, calling it a “step closer to segregation.” Suggesting the ‘Millions of Pounds’ could be better spent on scholarship systems rather than a womens-only series.
It was a sentiment backed up by Sophia Floersch, the driver Schreiner is replacing at the Formula E test, who said; “You are right, Pippa. I also feel sad. Business with big hopes. That’s why women are not taken seriously. Not my understanding of racing.”
The first weekend of the season will take place at Hockenheim on the 4-5th May 2019, supporting the DTM Series for six rounds.