The all-female W Series has been added to the Formula One calendar and will feature as a support race at eight grands prix in 2021, organisers have confirmed.
The move to split Formula Two and Formula Three to separate weekends next season has freed up the space to allow the W Series to be added to the F1 paddock, for what will be its second full season after the 2020 campaign was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic,
The W Series was due to feature among the support races at this year’s United States Grand Prix until the event was cancelled, but the move represents a huge boost for the publicity of the championship, with its full schedule set to be announced in due course.
“When we promised that W Series would be bigger and better in the future, partnering with Formula One was always our ultimate objective,” said founder and chief executive Catherine Bond Muir in a statement.
“There is no doubt that, now that W Series will be run alongside and in collaboration with Formula One, our global reach, impact and influence will be increased significantly.”
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Britain’s Jamie Chadwick was the inaugural champion of the series, which featured six rounds supporting the German Touring Car Championship (DTM).
The series, which uses identical 1.8 litre Formula Three cars, will be eligible for points towards an FIA super licence needed to race in Formula One.
Formula One, which this week published a draft 2021 calendar with a record 23 races running from Australia in March to Abu Dhabi in December, has not had a female driver compete in a grand prix since Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.
“It is a really important moment for us to welcome W Series as partners for eight races this season,” said Formula One’s managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn. “They have been a beacon to many since they began racing in 2019.
“We believe it is incredibly important to give everyone the chance to reach the highest levels of our sport and their partnership with Formula One next season shows our determination and commitment to showcase their exciting series and the importance of building greater diversity across the sport.”
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