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W Series partners with Formula 1 to stage races alongside Mexico and US Grands Prix

Jamie Chadwick, Inaugural W Series champion, and Catherine Bond Muir, CEO of W Series (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Sport Industry Group)

All-female motor racing competition the W Series has announced a tie-up with Formula 1 that will see it become part of the support programme at this year’s US and Mexican Grands Prix.

The W Series was launched last year as a platform to give more prominence and opportunities to women in motorsport, with all six races in its first series taking place on the undercard of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) touring car series.

The new tie-up with F1 will see W Series races take place on the same weekends as the Grands Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. The races will take place on consecutive weekends at the end of October, with the W Series events running on October24 and 31, the day before the F1 Grands Prix.

Last year, F1 commercial managing director Sean Bratches told SportBusiness that a collaboration with the W Series had been investigated in relation to 2019, but that there “wasn’t a lot of room” to include W Series races on the schedule. The US and Mexican Grands Prix weekends are easier, however, due to the absence of F2 or F3 junior series races on the undercard at those events.

F1 has made expanding its own calendar a priority, however, attempting to diversify both its fanbase and its offering at race weekends. It will hope that hosting W Series races will attract greater crowds to the racetracks on Saturdays, when traditionally the qualifying for the next day’s Grand Prix has been the biggest draw for fans. 

“In just one year, W Series has contributed significantly to increasing interest in the topic of diversity and inclusion in motorsport,” said Ross Brawn, managing director, motorsport at F1. “We are convinced that our sport must offer equal opportunities for men and women to compete together – it is no coincidence that improving the diversity of the F1 grid by supporting and promoting driver talent from underrepresented backgrounds is one of our strategic objectives.”

The move also sees the W Series expand from six races to eight for its second season. Organisers have unveiled the 2020 calendar, with the campaign getting underway in at the DTM race in St Petersburg on May 30 and concluding on October 31 in Mexico City. 

W Series chief executive Catherine Bond Muir said: “I’m particularly pleased that W Series will now stage races outside Europe, and the USA and Mexico are of course both very important new territories for us. The fact that W Series will be even bigger and even better in 2020 than it was in 2019 will make the return on investment for our future sponsor-partners better and bigger, too.”

Read this: ‘Mission-driven’ all-female W Series hopes to attract free-to-air coverage and purpose-beyond-profit sponsorship