The start of the 2021 W Series season is less than two months away after a long hiatus due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The preseason test event will take place in Anglesey on May 17th, before the official campaign gets underway on June 26th.
GiveMeSport Women has put together an 'everything you need to know' guide ahead of an exciting new season this year.
What is the W Series?
The W Series is a single-seater driving championship featuring 18 of the world's best female racers, plus two reserve drivers. Competitors are not required to bring a sponsor in order to feature in the competition.
The inaugural season of the W Series kickstarted in 2019 after being announced to the public the year before. Ahead of what should have been the 2020 term, the top 12 drivers from the previous season automatically qualified. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Series came up with an eSports League instead to fill the absent dates in the calendar.
The winner of the W Series will receive a $500,000 (£358,000) prize, with the remaining drivers seeing a split of the remaining $1million (£716,000) in the pot.
Who won the 2019 W Series?
With an overall winning margin of ten points – accumulating 110 for the season – Great Britain's Jamie Chadwick was crowned the first ever W Series champion. She set the tone in the debut race at Hockenheim, qualifying on pole and then going on to finish first.
Chadwick represents Williams after she joined their Driver Academy as a development driver in 2019. She is regarded as one of the country's finest young talents and has her eyes set on retaining her title this time round.
Speaking to GiveMeSport Women, the 22-year-old admitted that despite the inaugural W Series season feeling "a long time ago" she is prepared to get back on the grid and knows the areas she needs to improve in.
"I've just been working as hard as I can. I know the level that's required, not just for the W Series but beyond that and my whole focus is [on] trying to leave no stone unturned."
When and where are the 2021 races?
The 2021 season will begin in Le Castellet in France on June 26th and will end in Mexico's capital at the end of October. A race in mid July also sees the W Series come to the UK's famous Silverstone. The full racing calendar is as follows:
Le Castellet, France (June 26th)
Spielberg, Austria (July 3rd)
Silverstone, UK (July 17th)
Budapest, Hungary (July 31st)
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (August 28th)
Zandvoort, Netherlands (September 4th)
Austin, USA (October 23rd)
Mexico City, Mexico (October 30th)
Partnership with Formula 1
In November last year, the W Series announced that it would be officially partnering with Formula 1 for the 2021 season and beyond.
After promising that the Series would return bigger and better than ever, CEO Catherine Bond Muir said: "There is no doubt that, now that W Series will be run alongside and in collaboration with Formula 1, our global reach, impact and influence will be increased significantly."
Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of F1, recently admitted that he hopes female drivers will be on the grid of the world's elite racing competition in the near future.
Drivers to watch
As the reigning champion, Jamie Chadwick is the biggest name to watch in the 2021 season. She will unarguably be the driver to beat after her success in 2019 but the 22-year-old isn't underestimating her opponents on the grid.
"Obviously it's going to be a tough year," she said. "Anything can happen but I think I've been working really hard. I know what areas I need to work on to be much stronger than in 2019 and I'm confident that I can use that to the best of my abilities to hopefully have a strong year this year."
Arguably Chadwick's closest rival this season will be 2019's runner up Beitske Visser. The Dutch 26-year-old kept the pressure on the Brit throughout the last campaign and finished with a respectable 100 points. Visser is a very versatile racer, having driven single-seaters, karts and in GT series.
In the absence of track racing in 2020, Visser was crowned champion of the eSports series put in place, clinching the championship title with a round to spare.News Now - Sport News