This week female drivers across the world have been pitched against each other in Austria as the selection for the inaugural W Series begins. 54 drivers took part in the process and by the end 28 successful applicants were hand-picked by a panel of judges which included David Coulthard and Alex Wurz.
In total, five British drivers (Esmee Hawkey, Jamie Chadwick, Alice Powell, Sarah Moore and Jessica Hawkins) took part in the three-day test which included 10 modules. These ranged from testing driving ability (using road cars in the snow) to Fitness and media sessions.
At the end of three days, and after a ‘Race of Champions’ style finale, the judges made their final decision which resulted in all five of the British drivers progressing through to the next round of selection. With the series being free to enter and a championship winning prize of £381,000, it is easy to see why so many female drivers entered the process.
W Series CEO, Catherine Bond Muir said, “One thing I’ve seen over the past three days, and that I’ve been massively impressed by, is that each and every one of our qualifier drivers is tough, brave and strong.
“And of course we’ll therefore encourage them to work hard on their driving for the next few months and then consider re-applying for the 2020 W Series season when the time comes.”
When the series was first announced, it was met with mixed emotions with some people even saying it was discriminating. Indy 500 participant Pippa Mann expressed her feelings saying, “I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backwards take place in my life time.“
However, Coulthard has reassured fans this week that W Series is all about helping female drivers reach Formula One, not segregate them.
The next stage of selection will commence in March in Spain where the drivers will be taking to the track in Formula 3 race cars. Here the judges will have to trim the number of applicants down to 18 drivers with two as reserves ahead of the first round at Hockenheim in May. With so much interest in the championship, W Series looks set to have a very good inaugural year.