W Series: Tackling the right problem the wrong way?

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The near-total absence of women from the upper echelons of motor sport is both a problem and a massive opportunity.

It’s often been said that Formula 1 needs an American driver to help tap the vast US market of 325 million potential viewers. Compared to that, imagine giving the world’s 3.7 billion-plus women one of their own to cheer on.

It’s an imbalance that has been ignored for far too long. But ignored by whom? The obvious candidates are the FIA – as the sport’s regulator with a clear aim to “promote the development of motor sport” (according to its Statutes) – and FOM as the sport’s promoter.

The FIA already has its Women in Motorsport initiative, a broad campaign not solely concerned with producing more female racing drivers.

FOM’s commitment to promoting the role of women was non-existent under Bernie ‘women are kitchen appliances’ Ecclestone. His replacement by Liberty Media has at least led to the end of some overtly sexist policies which should have been abolished years ago.

But while FIA and FOM undoubtedly have important roles to play in encouraging more women to become racing drivers, addressing it directly would inevitably mean taking a driver and promoting them into F1. For either to do that could be considered a conflict of interests.

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This week W Series took the initiative and launched its own single-seater championship to begin next year using the same Tatuus chassis found in the FIA’s Asian and American F3 series. Controversially, it will be open to women only.

On the face of it, this is a betrayal of the very ideal the initiative is supposed to promote – that men and women can race on a level playing field. Many, including several female racers, have levelled this charge at W Series.

It’s a contradiction the championship promoters are clearly aware of, and have dedicated space on their website to addressing. “We firmly believe that women and men can race one another on equal terms provided they are given the same opportunity,” they state. The point of W Series is to “give 20 women the opportunity to race relevant cars on relevant tracks, giving them the relevant experience and qualifications to put them in contention for potential Formula 1 drives in the future.”

How do they intend to achieve this within an already congested single-seater pyramid featuring F3, F4, Formula Renault 2.0 and others? Significantly, W Series appears to have been designed to complement rather than replace existing championships.

With just six race weekends per year, competitors with aspirations of moving up the single-seater ladder will have to dovetail W Series with another championship. Not least because there’s no indication as yet that W Series will award FIA superlicence points, which any successful competitors will eventually need to graduate to F1.

Just as importantly, the competitors will not have to pay to take part. This makes good on W Series’ promise to increase the opportunities available to female racers, and not just give them an alternative to racing in mixed competition.

W Series is an entry-level championship which on its own will not be sufficient to send a racer, however talented, directly into F1. Drivers will still have to prove themselves in European F3, F2 or similar. The champion will walk away with $500,000 (£380,000), a useful chunk of cash towards the next rung on the ladder.

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Is this the best way the capital behind W Series could have been spent on promoting female racers? Perhaps a scholarship programme, such as the now-defunct Racing Steps Foundation which aided young British racers or the SMP Racing scheme which brought Sergey Sirotkin into F1, would be a more effective way of ushering female racers through the ranks.

But as an addition to existing championships, rather than an alternative to them, W Series makes some sense. It may be that the organisers have accurately identified the point at which F1’s future female racers drop out of the young driver system.

For any young racing driver the odds of climbing the ranks from karting to F1 must seem daunting. But for a girl, with no recent examples of women racers in F1 to take inspiration from, the unlikely must appear impossible.

The test of this will be how successfully W Series fills its 20 seats. Are there dozens of talented female karters who, for whatever reason, are not making the transition to racing cars? Or is the greater problem, as discussed here previously, the shortage of female karters to begin with?

W Series is positioning itself as part of the solution to the lack of female participation in motor racing. But many of the greatest obstacles to this lie outside motor sport.

Look at F1’s official Esports championship, which doesn’t have any of the baggage of traditional motor racing, yet still has comparatively few female competitors. Why is this?

The answer must lie to some extent in wider society. From my own experience I know many women who enjoy motor racing as much as I do, which is why I’m sceptical of those who simply insist most women don’t like motor sport. Or, at least, suspect this is a matter of nurture rather than nature.

For some, perhaps many, attitudes about what is or isn’t appropriate for either gender are deeply ingrained, almost from birth. There are a lot of parents out there who think toy cars are only for boys. It’s asking a lot to expect W Series to single-handedly fix that.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 104 comments on “W Series: Tackling the right problem the wrong way?”

    1. The right way of tackling this problem is to remove all the toxic attitude by the male audience of motorsports. We’ve made great strides in that direction in the last decades, for sure, by making progress in regards to stopping seeing women as trophies or decoration pieces, by making progress in regards to stopping the stereotype that they are bad drivers, that they don’t understand car mechanics, by making progress in including them in the fandom of motorsports.

      But it’s progress. Women, today, still face a much more hostile and toxic environment as FANS of the sports, let alone as people who are potentially interested in cars and ask their friends about this or that. That is the real barrier to entry of female drivers, and that is the right problem.

      This article (nice read, by the way) kind of brushes against the problem. But fails to touch on it directly.

      Men need to do better for women to do better. Men are responsible for the continuation of this situation.

      1. Can you explain how men are responsible and what makes you think women are seen as trophies? I can’t see the toxic community you are describing

      2. Why is the lack of female drivers seen as a problem?
        Equal opportunity does not mean equal outcome.
        How many women drivers are actually complaining about the lack of opportunity?
        Is this a real problem or something made up by the ‘sexual politics’ factions?

        1. It’s all part of the identity politics nonsense that gets in the way of arriving at a root cause for society’s imbalances.

          Sometimes the root cause is blindingly obvious, in this case it’s simply that not so many girls see racing as something they want to do. The BBC experiment of girls vs boys showed that very clearly. What’s more, somebody did the same with male and female chimpanzees, guess what, they behaved just their human counterparts, the males played with boys toys, the females with girls toys. It’s down to the chemical soup that we are all bathed in, competitive or nurturing, with shades of grey on the scale between the two.

          BTW I thought Jamie Chadwick winning an F3 race was a huge thing, but she comes from a racing family with (I suspect) enough money to treat her brother and her to the right equipment, but good luck to her, winning still needs talent.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            13th October 2018, 22:49

            @frasier And no! Not well said Frasier! The wider question would be, what do they see themselves doing at that age, where do those ideas come from, what effect has conditioning had, and of course, what actually seperates us from monkeys, because, I’ve noticed, Monkeys don’t have F1 teams!
            Everyone can be a Forest Gump philosopher. It’s difficult to answer the broader questions.

            1. @davewillisporter sounds like you didn’t watch the BBC programme with little kids, or indeed the one with baby monkeys…

          2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            14th October 2018, 1:53

            @frasier What, the one in the clip that demonstrated the inherent bias of childcare and parenting or some other BBC doc? I can assure you. When they’re learning to be tactile and inquisitive there’s no bias in what they pick up and put in their mouth or bash with another toy. Regardless, it’s a red herring. If you want an example of how a male dominated sport affects girls look no further than football. Hardly any female participation in school football until female football teams became successful and high profile, after which a huge uptick in young girls interest in playing the game. Why? Oh! I didn’t think girls could play football… or was that monkeys?

            1. Female football team didn’t became successful against male football teams right? Now you see the point of W series.

            2. @davewillisporter it’s not about none of the girls wanting to drive it’s about numbers, and a natural distribution between competitive and nurturing. Girls lie at the nurturing end of that scale, boys at the competitive end, estrogen and testosterone levels see to that.

              You can always tell that someone is presenting weak arguments when they move the goalposts (see what I did there?) to illustrate their point. Football is a physical sport where size and strength matters, so you have separate games, where the number of men playing vastly exceeds women.

              The point Jamie Chadwick and other women racing drivers make with their results is that they don’t need their own formula, they can compete against men, it’s not about strength. The majority however, faced with the uphill challenge that all racing drivers face, are simply not interested enough in car racing to tackle those hurdles. Horses, dogs, with all the nurture thing going on, different story.

            3. @zeus_m3 FIFA bans competitive football between boys and girls above age 11 and has done for decades, so there was never a possibility of female teams being allowed to try beating the male ones.

          3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            16th October 2018, 19:26

            @frasier

            Comparing woman’s football in this case is not moving goalposts. It speaks directly to your theory that the numbers are due to gender tendencies. I gave an example of an extremely masculine sport, that when promoted amongst the female population experienced an exponential growth in female interest. While you may be correct that some females are simply not interested, as indeed are some males, when you present a clear path and possibilities, people can and do decide independent of gender. In the case of women’s football when presented with the opportunity, a lot more women chose to pursue a “masculine sport” than did before.
            I’m sure back in the day when women were told to look pretty, sit in the parlour and do crochet while the men talked politics not many wanted to pursue a political career. When presented with a path and an opportunity….. oh look. 2018 record number of females seeking political careers.

            As for “numbers” approx 5% of the world’s commercial pilots are female. The percentage of female racing drivers is way way lower. So compared to an industry where the numbers (and yes, the attitudes – still!) are unbelievably skewed in favour of men up front and women down the back, motor racing is considerably worse.
            There is only one absolute and one alone. Survival / procreation. Save for that, given enough time and enough opportunity, a lot more professions would achieve a much more balanced split. It hasn’t happened yet due to historical restrictions and cultural biases, not hormones!

            So let them have their series. Hopefully a new generation of “free thinkers” will emerge, and one of them will probably be good enough for F1. Who could be against that?

        2. Agree 100%, John Toad. Leftists have a habit of creating problems so they can try to fix them.

        3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          13th October 2018, 22:40

          @John Toad No-one expects equality of outcome. That is a silly notion someone dreamed up as a non existent counterpoint. what those who use the term “equality of outcome” fail to understand is that equal opportunity is simply not there for everyone. I have an equal opportunity to buy a Ferrari, but if I walked into a showroom tomorrow I wouldn’t drive out with one. The place at which we start matters, and for a lot of would be female racers, they simply do not get support at the very start, whether that is a 9 year old being told “Don’t be silly, there are no successful female racers, try riding a horse!” or whether it’s an up and coming female cart racer trying to convince a sponsor to back a female and take a risk, it matters where you start. The financial and social deck is stacked in favour of males in this world. Female pilots broke through this barrier and changed that industry. Before they did, it very much resembled motor sport as it is today.

          1. Equal opportunity is an equally silly phrase.
            Just what does it mean?
            That everybody that wants to drive an F1 can should have a chance to do so?
            To drive an F1 car quickly you need a certain level of physical and mental skills, You also need to fit certain size parameters and certain age brackets.
            So unless you have the parameters necessary, you simply will not get a look-in.
            Is this equal opportunity where a large proportion of those who wish to be candidates are ruled out simply because they don’t fit into a set of parameters?

            1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
              14th October 2018, 1:41

              @ceevee No………. I only wish that people who regurgitate mindless phrases such as “equal opportunity does not mean equality of outcome” come to the realisation that the preposition that equal opportunity existed in the first place is false. In addition, also come to the realisation that certain people who do fit the particular skill set are indeed prevented from achieving their potential by the biased nature of the environment. This isn’t about little Johnny or Jane and their pie in the sky F1 dream. This is about getting the best talent period. That should not be interfered with by the neanderthal lithic notion that women can’t drive cars as fast as men.
              As for your original question, “How many women drivers are actually complaining about the lack of opportunity?” How about two of the most successful? Danica Patrick and Pippa Mann.
              It’s a problem because it’s actually a problem!

        4. Well, @ceevee, first of all this is a problem when one wants to tap into the other half of the world to grow motorsports (and viewership of them), and then yes, more or less ALL know female racing drivers describe how hard it is to even get a chance, so yes there IS a problem.

      3. @nathanbuilder, IF, and I say IF, you have identified the problem then where is the progress you talk of, check the history of motor racing and you will find examples of women competing at high levels throughout, but always in small numbers and usually as amateurs, the more professional the racing the fewer the number of women competing.

      4. I’ve been to quite a few F1 races in different countries recently as well as some speedway and an FE race and have not seen any misogyny towards female fans. Some examples to support your statement would be good.

    2. It would be great if women could compete in F1 and I applaud efforts to help them.

      Sadly biology is a major barrier. This study (below) found women had slower visual and auditory reaction times. There is plenty of overlap, but there is also a gap at the extremes. So women who can respond as quickly as very fast men are exceptionally rare.

      I’ve been trying to find a sport that would be a good proxy for reflexes like balancing the car in a turn. Or a study that could give some insight. So far I haven’t.

      It is also worrying that women don’t do as well at poker and chess.

      I’d love to see women in F1. But I think it is unlikely because the genders are different.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4456887/

      1. That study didn’t find any relationship to biology. You’re just drawing the wrong conclusions.
        That’s like saying a study finds that women have longer hair than men, and then you saying “it’s biology!”.
        First off, no, it’s not biology, because the distinction between sexes is not biology-derived.
        Secondly, it’s much more likely in general, that differences in aptitude between genders are socially derived. Much like differences in the length of hairstyle.

        1. I’m not sure if I’m feeding a troll, but if “distinction between sexes is not biology-derived”, can a male or a female person just decide to get pregnant if it do not has the appropriate reproductive organs?

          1. You’re presenting a false dichotomy. Yes, gender isn’t defined by the reproductive organs you have. But no, you can’t “just decide” what gender you are, much less to get pregnant without the appropriate health conditions and organs.
            Infertile women are women.
            Women without an uterus are women.
            Trans-women are women.
            Women with a penis are women.

            Look it up.

        2. First off, no, it’s not biology, because the distinction between sexes is not biology-derived.

          This statement is so completely egregious, that it undermines anything you’ve said, or anything you might say for the next 10 years.

          Of course, it might be that you’re unaware that biology is based on genetics, and genetically speaking, men and women have a major difference in chromosomes– men are XY, and women are XX– but if you’re that unaware, stop talking about things you’re truly ignorant of.

          There are major fundamental differences between women and men. Doesn’t mean women are better, or worse, it just means they’re different. Trying to ignore that difference is a major mistake. Accept it, celebrate it, but never, ever, hold it against someone.

          Can women be racing drivers? Absolutely. Look up “Brittany Force” (and her sisters) for an example of reaction times that rebuffs RP’s premise.

          1. “men are XY, and women are XX”

            And at this point, it is very clear you stopped learning about genetics at about 15, and that if he should stop talking, then so should you with your simplistic, childish view of how genetics and sex are related.

            Its very clear to me that you have taken the statement “First off, no, it’s not biology, because the distinction between sexes is not biology-derived.” as a self contained statement in isolation, while in context it makes perfect sense. The context being, this study. This study did not conclude that the differences were as a result of differences between sexes, so using it to draw that conclusion is rightfully rebutted.

            1. Well, I admit to stopping at AP biology, but that was at age 17, and counted as college-level coursework. If you’d like to demonstrate how my statement is false, good luck. If you’d like to explain that there are all kinds of edge cases, that’s true, but for 7 billion people, the vast majority are XX/XY. If you’d like to add the complexity of dominant/recessive genes, and mutations, and a whole lot of other things that I’d have to be bothered to look up, don’t.

              There are indeed differences in societal perceptions, pressures and other cultural norms– but that’s environment, not biology.

              Since Nathan used his statement that the difference between sexes is not biology-derived as a standalone paragraph (hard returns before / after, with a period to terminate the sentence), I consider it to have been used as a self-contained statement. Further, no support was given (even by reference to the study which I didn’t read, because I fundamentally disagree with the claimed premise) for his declaration that the difference is based on society.

              Don’t misunderstand– I personally believe that reaction times are part genetics, and part learned skill– saying women have inherently worse reaction time and hand-eye coordination is laughable.

      2. Oh, and for the record, this is precisely the sort of attitude that keeps women out of formula 1, motorsports, and cars in general.

        1. No, it is not been fast enough or not having money enough, just as motorsport do with boys.
          Plus, are there that many girls that want and/or deserve to be in a F1 car?

          1. “are there that many girls that want and/or deserve to be in a F1 car?”
            I thought that was precisely the problem we’re trying to fix… You know? That there aren’t many girls that want and/or deserve to be in a F1 car.

            1. Then, why is it a problem if we do not know if and how many girls are affected.
              I mean, all the problem and its solutions seems to assume that girls would be equally interested in motorracing as boys.

        2. @nathanbuilder

          Um, no, my attitude is to give everyone the fairests chance I can. I expect my kids to join me in the garage and kitchen, regardless of gender.

          The data from that study shows a very large overlap. Any one girl could be faster than any one boy. So it is only fair to start by giving everyone the same chance.

          Since there are so few women in F1, and since I think women would bring a lot to the sport, I support attempts to help them. I don’t know if a separate series will help, but it should be fun to watch with my daughters (and son).

          And my fastest and most fearless child is a girl. The biggest barrier to her entering motorsports is my lack of budget and time to help her.

          But, we were talking about F1. We should be realistic. There are real biological limitations for women. Of the 20 most talented (and well funded) drivers in the world, we can’t expect 1/2 of them to be women. We should probably be happy with a few.

          1. But, we were talking about F1. We should be realistic. There are real biological limitations for women. Of the 20 most talented (and well funded) drivers in the world, we can’t expect 1/2 of them to be women. We should probably be happy with a few.

            But, we are talking about F1, not the 20 most talented drivers in the world by any stretch of the imagination – Citation point, Lance Stroll.

          2. @slotopen One would be a great start.

      3. @slotopen, the situation is not quite as clean cut as you present it as being, as that particular study only considered what is known as simple reaction times, where the individual in question only has to perform a very basic response to stimuli.
        In that situation, there is evidence that, as the motor stimuli is stronger in males, if the task is very basic – such as just pushing a button – then yes, men do respond slightly more rapidly in that situation.

        However, the paper you quote does note that, when dealing with more athletic individuals, that difference in response time does seem to reduce – it does also note that a review of historical literature shows that, as the number of women who have engaged in higher speed sports or high speed driving has increased over time, the advantage that men have in that field has been falling over time – it therefore suggests that is might not be a purely biological aspect, as that might be in part influenced by some cultural aspects as well.

        Meanwhile, if the task that you set requires the individual to have to make a decision about how to respond, research has found that women tend to react more quickly than men in that situation. When it therefore comes to seeing how people react to a more complex stimulus, the net effect is that the complex reaction time is actually pretty similar between sexes – the man might have a slightly quicker physical response, but that is offset by the fact that a woman will have decided how to respond slightly more rapidly than a man will.
        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221888321_Sex_Differences_in_Reaction_Time_Mean_and_Intraindividual_Variability_Across_the_Life_Span

      4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        13th October 2018, 22:58

        @slotopen A quote from your quoted study

        “Nowadays the male advantage is getting smaller, possibly because more women are participating in driving and fast-action sports.”

        Which reinforces my view that women are not yet as good at this as men because not enough have been exposed to it.

    3. Look at F1’s official Esports championship, which doesn’t have any of the baggage of traditional motor racing, yet still has comparatively few female competitors. Why is this?

      Because usually, only men are enough of losers and social rejects to waste all that time required to be sufficiently good to compete against other failures at life.

      1. Damn, tell us what you really think why don’t you?

      2. @klon Loser and social reject or determined and focused to be better at what they like? Not including not easily distracted by meaningless society pressure?

    4. Sincerely, I think promoting more engineering positions to female would make a better impact on future girls.

    5. I do wonder who the grid will be filled up by. At the moment I can only think of 4 drivers for the series
      Carmen Jorda( oh no)
      Simona De silvestro
      Katherine Legge who is very talented but has been around for so long.
      Tatiana Calderon

      Susie Wolff has retired and good luck persuading Danica Patrick. Maybe Sabine Schmitz from the Top Gear basement? I guess that’s part of the fun though and finding NEW talent.

      1. And Pippa Mann oh wait…

      2. Maybe, part of the series business plan is to serve new female drivers.
        Their customer will probably be girls interested in racing that have some money and talent, but not enough to land a seat on a junior series.
        I still think that is fairly improbable that girls were reject on junior series because they are girls.
        I see that entry level competition may be hard for girls, but I cannot see them as easy for guys.

        1. i wonder if anyone has a way to get the stats on how many people tried to make it to F1 vs how many are successful. I’d be surprised if it was any better than 1 in 500. If that statistic was drastically different for girls, i’d agree there might be a problem. For now, all i see fewer girls getting involved in karting as kids because they don’t want to.

          I’d actually be willing to bet that if a girl has the talent, it’s easier for her to attract sponsors because they’ll get media attention much more than her male peers.

      3. Carmen Jorda had better stay out of it. She, of no decent results in any category she has ever competed in, will be opening herself up to another storm of criticism after she brings up the rear yet again.

      4. Sofia Floersch is an obvious candidate as she already competes in F3, would be a good benchmark too.

      5. And maybe Beitske Visser? She was part of the Red Bull Junior programme a few years back.

      6. From the information provided, the target audience would need to be:

        – drivers who are already skilful enough to drive a standard F3 car without looking silly (the Asian F3 cars are slightly faster and trickier, from what my friends who follow junior series more closely tell me)

        – who are over the age of 16 (as this car is too powerful to be eligible for the 14-16 age category which is the actual point where the number of female licence-holders goes from “small but enough for a plausible candidate to emerge” to “microscopic”)

        – who have good enough sponsors to spend at least $150,000 on F3/GP3 in addition to perhaps $20,000 of travel, kit and incidental expenses for W Series (free entry does not mean all-inclusive!), because anyone only doing 6 races isn’t going to develop their skills enough to get into the next series up (or even, necessarily, the one they were at)

        – whose sponsors aren’t the sort to walk away just because they got too successful (I’ve heard of it happening)

        – who can afford not to care that there are no FIA points attached to this championship and no past experience to suggest which methods (if any) of doing W Series will improve one’s racing career prospects (or else has bad management who fails to take account of all this)

        – who have or hope to have enough sponsors to make it into F2 (or F1) the next year, since you’d probably need to have already done some F3 to be able to drive the W Series cars properly and drivers doing more than 2 years of F3/GP3 don’t tend to be able to reach F1 anyway (even on the rare occasions they get/retain a F1 development driver connection)

        – who aren’t going to face the same chassis-switching confusion issues that some drivers mixing F1 and F2 have reported (otherwise, you risk sabotaging your main series in the attempt to get more practise)

        – cannot (or prefers not to) get a drive anywhere that pays an actual salary-and-bonus contract such as Formula E or a professional sportscar/touring car seat

        – who can pass the judging standards (whatever those turn out to be)

        – who thinks W Series is more than a marketing stunt

        I don’t think there are 20 drivers who can meet that level, and am not sure there would be even if it was opened to male drivers. Expect more than a few of the names to be people with little car racing experience (or, if things really head south, no car racing experience whatsoever) who will struggle to get much out of the cars. That in turn will undermine the credibility of the better racers in the series, turning the series into a glorified test and marketing session in terms of potential benefit to the women. Quite how this is going to achieve the stated aims of the series remains a mystery.

    6. I participate in a sport that also struggles to attract female participants (flying sailplanes/gliders).

      We have had more or less the same discussion over many years: there are no obvious physical, cognitive, monetary or other reasons why this has been an almost exclusively male domain, so there are no reasons as such why men and women should not compete directly against each other. But, no joy.

      For the last 10-15 years or so (maybe more) separate womens European and World championships have been arranged, and similar competitions are run at national levels in some countries.

      We have had some of the same controversies as we are now seeing in motorsports, and many of the same arguments have been made, both pro and con.

      However, once the female-only championships were well-established, they have become very popular and are beginning to show their results as a way into mixed competitions.

      We are now slowly seeing more women entering the mixed-gender World championships, and seeing some real top female talent emerging (at the last Worlds, Germany’s Katrin Senne was running for strong a podium (and/or a world championship) until a miscalculation on one of the last days sent her out of the running – something that happened to several of her male competitors too, I might add).

      I know a couple of female pilots who have flown in both female-only and mixed competitions. From what they tell me, starting out in female-only competitions were a great motivator and learning environment for them. They could test and hone their skills without having to combat any “boys-club” atmosphere at the same time and without standing out as an obvious minority.

      They also remarked that women’s competitions were a better learning environment, where top pilots, while still not giving any quarter in the competition, were much more willing to welcome, tutor and mentor less experienced pilots.

      Of course, motor racing and racing sailplanes are very different beasts. But for what it is worth, it seems to be working for us.

      1. Brilliant comparison… You have changed my mind to now supporting the W series! Instead of rejecting the W series concept on basic principles of equality you have shown me a number of “practical” nurturing actions that have started the process of increasing participation, enthusiasm and long term skill development that is actually, and finally, making progress.

      2. You get my vote for COTD. It is very nice to hear from someone who’s seen the same situation & attempted solution in another competitive arena.

        Of course, motor racing and racing sailplanes are very different beasts. But for what it is worth, it seems to be working for us.

        I’d say that pretty much every part of your comment is applicable to motor racing. I’m not sure only of the mentoring/tutoring bit, as I’d think that motorsport is cutthroat at the junior levels as people aspire for promotion to higher series. But hey, that doesn’t invalidate your comment in any way, that’s just a commentary on the nature of motorsport.

      3. Great analysis by one of the few who have a relevant comparison.

      4. Thank you for this insight. COTD, hands down.

      5. +1 Great comment

      6. Fully agreed with this. This approach might bring more sponsors and wealthty parents knowing there are chances to be on the top of the sport.
        Maybe they only need to add age restriction on W-series and reward some superlicense points.

        1. W Series will have to be 16+, simply for the machinery in use. (A car racing series wanting 14-15-year-olds has to use particularly underpowered machinery for safety reasons).

      7. Bravo! An actual example, with history.

        Glad to hear it’s working, and I genuinely hope for more female participation in F1 as a result.

    7. If you are going to make the argument that boys become good race car drivers just because they play more with boys’ toys and have games that value more spatial awareness skills and traits then you also need to ask the question why that could be from nature side. Simply focusing purely on the nurture side feels misleading and is based more on ideology than facts. Biologically men and women are different. Our bodies are different, our brains are different. And that means that equal opportunities don’t guarantee equal outcomes. It is much deeper question than simply saying because we teach them so.

      Humans are product of long evolution. Both physically but also socially and culturally. Before we had complex societies and cultures we had biological roles, needs and purposes. Women took care of the kids and men hunt. Men have better spatial skills. Simply from evolution perspective the human race has gone through hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection where the biggest and meanest male hunters and prettiest and child producing females have been chosen to procreate. To say that that doesn’t lead to males having better physical skills or females having better social perception skills is like denying evolution. These are not just things we teach our children. They are products on hundreds of years of natural selection.

      The differences between males and females is not a zero sum game. It is not a point system at all. Women are better and worse at some things and men are better and worse at some other things. It doesn’t cancel out in the middle because there is no middle. We are different. If you take an apple and an orange what do you get in the middle? It is nonsensical question.

      I think the main reason for this W series is money. Anything that promotes women or focuses on women’s issues in our current political climate gets massive amounts of media time. This W F3 series will be the most watched f3 when it launches. Not because it has the best drivers and not even because it has the interested audience. It is because it is about women and that alone will get it more press coverage than any f3 series before. The races will be shown in tv and streamed online. In theory it is a huge money maker.

      Junior formula series can be great fun to watch as well. The cars are close in performance, the driver skill varies a lot and is an important differentiator and there is a lot more unpredictability compared to an f1. If you add some reality tv elements to it then I’d guess the isntagram generation will love it as well. The on-track action should be great. If you can make that an attractice package of it then you can make a lot of money with it. Making a female only race series already means the series will get a lot more exposure than any other f3 series. But does it actually prove anything about that femals can do what males can do? No.

      1. @socksolid Such is the parlous state of F3 coverage that if W Series finds any sort of live TV coverage (even on a pay channel), it’ll get the most views of any F3 series… …simply due to it having bigger reach than its competitors. Since it’s possible to buy pay TV coverage, and these administrators seem happy to throw money at the series, this is exactly what I expect will happen.

        No need for reality TV elements or even doing any of the standard marketing tricks TV programming the world over uses (though I expect both to happen anyway – as you may have detected from my other comments, I don’t trust the organisers of this series further than I can throw them).

    8. I just don’t understand why truth has to painted over, even though it’s obvious to all.

      Women and men are different, and it’s not just from the neck down. Most sports have acknowledged this and moved on, I just don’t understand why motorsport should be so different.

      As it is, the argument of ‘fair play’ and ‘equal terms’ are just used to keep women down, but it’s anyway now sorted with a separate series thankfully.

      I already follow a couple of women series and although the competition is not as close or impressive as the mens, it’s still good and enjoyable sports since it’s all relative.

      1. Obvious?

        The difference between women and men in driving is way smaller than the gendergap in motorsports and thats because they dont have equal terms or fair play. Even if you accept that men are better drivers the top 20 women should still be competetive in top series.

        1. The differences may be smaller than the gender gap, but the differences is motivation and risk taking behavior between men and women are large. The problem lies, I believe, in that; there are way more men interested in the risky sports so there are way more of them trying and hence a far larger group of successful players. Yes, there is no question that a woman driver can be as good as a man driver; the problem is that far fewer women seem to be motivated by some the things that may be important to being a successful driver: risk taking and aggressive behavior.

          I used to race FF and F2000, fairly successfully, and ran a race shop for formula cars. I hoped my daughter, who used to watch F1 with me and knew about racing would show interest in the sport. I had the means and ability to support her if she wanted to race. When she was about ten she came up to me, unasked, and said, and i paraphrase, ‘Dad, I’m sorry but I just not interested in racing’. She knew I was hoping she wanted to race, but she just didn’t. And that was fair enough and was accepted by me. I just think men and women are different and the percentage of women who are interested in racing cars is just way smaller than that of men. There will therefore be fewer women racing than men just because they aren’t interested in that particular sport.

          Before a bunch of people jump on me as sexist, I’m not. I still rock climb and there are absolutely fantastic women climbers who climb stuff that seems impossible and that I never will climb. Are they better than me? Absolutely. Are they risk takers? Way more than me. Are they majority of climbers? No. I think the same will apply for women drivers.

        2. Saying there are no differences between men and women above the neck, and that all the differences seen in every sport is simply due to men keeping women down is naive at best.

          1. Agreed. He’s stuck in the myth that all difference in outcome is due to sexism and that’s garbage, SJW crap.

            1. @jblank, I wondered how long it would be before we saw the usual blokes having a tantrum about how SJWs are spoiling all their fun – seems to be the case that those who throw that sort of statement about seem to be much more prone to tantrums and childish behaviour than those they mock.

            2. Then you’re not paying attention, “anon”.

    9. The winner of this segregated series will have shown or proved nothing other than the fact that she was able to beat the other 19 young ladies chosen by the organizers. To move up the ladder towards F1, she must still prove herself in the open F3 and F2 series. If the goal here is to identify some really talented female drivers and help them climb the ladder to F1, the millions being invested would be much better spent by directly sponsoring/supporting the careers of a few women who are already showing the skill and grit to possibly move up the ranks. And the money on offer to the winner is great and all, but like I mentioned in another post, a much better first prize would be a full season’s ride with a top tier F3 or F2 team. Only then will we see what she’s really got.

    10. The FIA / FOM aren’t short of a bob or two. If they’re really serious about getting more women into F1, why not help fund a couple of extra cars at each level (F3, F2, etc). Even if this meant initially exploiting the somewhat cringeworthy “girl team” “pink car” thing to drum up media interest and extra sponsorship opportunities. After 5 years they could already have helped several women reach the top strata of motorsport and then hopefully it could snowball from there. The more the merrier I say. The sport needs a strong influx of talent, entertainment and media savvy in order to thrive in the 2020s and beyond. And after all, who’s to say “the next Ayrton Senna Senna” can’t be a woman?

    11. I want to see an ex-F1 driver apply to join the W series. When he’s refused, sue the pants off them for sexual discrimination. Then take his ‘winnings’ and get a drive in F1. The driver will have a fan for life. Ocon, Want a manger to get you back in F1?

    12. Women can, and do, fly hot combat jets, there’s NO reason why a woman can’t drive a car as fast as a man, end of topic.
      All this ‘biology’ talk is a bunch of nonsense.

    13. Does anyone really think a woman who could bang wheels with the likes of Lewis and Seb wouldn’t be a sponsors dream ? ..make it so.

    14. If they cannot compete against their male counterparts why create a separate series? Motorsport isn’t always fair and it is a tough business (look at Ocon). I wonder who will get the drive and how fast those cars will be.

      1. @panagiotism-papatheodorou They’re Asian F3 cars, so pretty fast. A completely down-on-their-luck racer with F3 experience who sees it as their last chance of staying in motorsport will be able to get some pleasingly fast laps out of it.

    15. The car in that picture looks like something a girl would drive!
      Stupid girls …..

    16. Personally I think it’s fine to have a women’s series, similar to every other major sport. Sure if a woman driver makes it to an F1 seat of course that should be welcomed. There have been initiatives for years that haven’t really worked so at least this is something different that isn’t patronising in my opinion.

      This should all be led by women though and not decided on by men. Of course many many women love Motorsports, but on average it seems to have more interest to men (just saying!!). Trying to get my daughter into F1 I speak first hand here, despite my efforts she’s not interested and it has nothing to do with lack of women drivers. She would see it as a challenge just like Hamilton did for example.

      I dunno, it’s a tricky subject but just assuming we can start again from day one is foolish. There’s a chance on average that women naturally don’t like fast cars as much as men do.

    17. In principle, the new series is a good idea. There will be new jobs for many people and it will be another economic activity related to racing. That is always positive.
      On the other hand, it will be a showcase for female drivers to show their talent. If they are really capable, surely after competing in this series they will be able to pass to F3 and F2 to continue their way to F1.
      It is not the ideal solution perhaps, but we will have to wait several years and see what the result is.

    18. It’s not a problem. The best drivers deserve to be in the seats and gender should NEVER give someone a leg up. The series exist and if women can compete or want to compete, they have the chance.

    19. I wonder how long it will take for Formula W to turn into a glam-fest, with revealing photos of the drivers in all the magazines? Also, will the series have “grid guys” in Speedos to complete the role reversal?

    20. Yeah well, I seen a short interview with Max Verstappen in Dubai, he was asked about women in F1.
      He said that basically the “mother instinct” works against them, they could not be aggressive enough. So he could not see women being able to race against men. Bit of a caveman attitude I think.

    21. I can only see it as a good thing. Its giving women a platform to show what they can do. A lot of people will watch it and there will be significant media attention, so the winner will get huge exposure and a great opportunity to set their sights on F1. The brand exposure and marketing for the F1 teams if they employed a women driver would be great as well.

      Even if the series doesn’t prove to find a women currently good enough for F1 (which I doubt, with the likes of Jamie Chadwick there clearly are talented women in motorsport), it has far more chance of inspiring the next generation of women, with everyone actually seeing them compete rather than the constant motorsport audience saying they aren’t good enough.

      I really hope the series is a success and in the future we can see women competing in F1. I see absolutely no reason why women cannot be competitive, if we can get more involvement at grass roots level it will surely come over time as well. I am just glad some initiative has been taken, even if it doesn’t work at least people are now trying to get some change happening in the motorsport world.

    22. All the venues are in the EU/UK? That does not represent a fair share of “the world’s 3.7 billion-plus women”.

      Isn’t that racist?

      1. Nope. It just bring the sport to its main viewers. Racist is why FIA only offer W Series. Why no U Series for young drivers that identified themself as unicorn?

        1. The word you are looking for is sexist. Making a decision based on gender. Racism is similar but the decision is based on race, culture or skin colour. There really is only ONE race for humans scientifically.
          To the SJWs out there. Why is it that women suck at darts and snooker compared to men? It cannot be physical as cues and darts don’t weigh that much and can be adjusted within limits to suit the user.
          Both darts and snooker are open to anyone providing they are good enough. Must be something north of the shoulders. Male and female brains are not the same. Whether you like it or not the genders are not equal and never will be, no matter how much you reject the evidence.

          1. Whether you like it or not the genders are not equal and never will be

            Let’s pretend for a second that’s true – it’s probably no-where near as true as you’d like it to be, but lets just pretend it is.

            The racing will sort that out. OK – men don’t need you white knighting for them if they are just naturally better, they will out compete women.

            That out the way, Will Wood has categorically stated that he has interviewed a lot of men and women racers and that the difference between the opportunities they have is real. So why resist giving them the opportunities “Well they won’t do as well so why bother” seems to be your answer, when, if you are correct, they won’t do as well while being treated fairly.

            Either you think Will is a bare faced liar, in which case, show us your career of interviewing F1 drivers as your evidence to the contrary, anonymous coward, or you are resisting women in racing for some reason that you are too scared to disclose (perhaps even to yourself).

          2. @anon-e moss Next time you wish to make a statement that controversial and sweeping, it would be advisable to check the premises quoted are true first. That would make the attempt at logic more likely to succeed.

      2. @CC If I understand correctly, the same bunch of people tried to launch a 5 EU/1 US series for women-only a few months back and it sank without trace. This may be an attempt to get things to be more practical.

    23. One thing in the article jumped out at me, six races and “the champion walks away with $500,000”, what a great way to fund university or get on the property ladder, walking away might be exactly what the champion does.

    24. Most of you are speaking as if Liberty / FIA are gender idealists / altruist (maybe their marketing department disguised them well), while they are just profit maximizing companies. Having a female sports class (preferably with pretty women) attracts additional viewership (still mostly male), thus Liberty is trying to apply their existing racing organizing know how and expand their business with this somewhat proven business model.

      Investing in female racers early on and becoming their agent can also be viable, though we see less successful cases in this model. Agency business is not mutually exclusive to W Series, so anybody who wants to try is welcome.

      1. W Series is not run by the FIA or Liberty, it’s an independent series. Clearly it’s looking out for its own interests.

    25. The entire problem here is modern society construct that man and women are the same. We simply are not.

      Whenever men or women are pitted against eachother in a sporting setting be it chess, running or motosport men tend to win.

      Even while on the surface men and women posses very similar driving ability, when it comes to possesing elite driving ability those are almost always men. Even worse those are men of the certain age.

      When it comes to F1 those are 20 of the best drivers in the world with either most talent or most backing all between age of 18-36 (some extend this a bit but we all agree nolonger as good as before.)

      There is a very low probability a woman can compete on the same level. Result of this statistical feature is no women driving in F1.

      We have a solution for this in many sports. A women only championship allows them to compete against competitors of equal genetic starting point. This is how it should be, until there is a sport where both sexes perform equally this makes sense.

      1. Bazaar, totally out of touch with a changing world.

    26. If you take a close look in most sports, there are different competitons for both men and women, athletics, football, tennis and the rest. Why is that so? Is it because men and women can’t compete equal on the same level in the same discipline against each other? What is different in motorsport in general from this other sports? Does physical and mental ability play a role in these disparities? Whichever way we look into this, it’s a never ending debate.

      1. Motorsport (like equestrianism and sailing, most branches of which are also mixed-gender and have known successful men and women alike) has a significant non-human factor that influences the outcome.

    27. There is often an unspoken fear of change, of upsetting the Status Quo. I’m sure if we’d been told 40 years ago that we’d be happily racing in Russia and a black man would be the 5 – time World Champion, a lot of us would look very confused too. Times change, and sport should be something that’s available to all of us. (And without a huge TV paywall!)

    28. Could we ask Max Verstappens sister why she is not on the F1 grid?

      1. @racingdave The fact she started racing at 15 (as opposed to Max, who started at 3) is likely a factor. Yes, Tiago Monteiro and Takuma Sato may have got into F1 last decade having started at an older age, but it is very much the exception rather than the rule.

    29. I trust this series will be adorned with half naked speedo wearing young men holding number boards and smiling inanely.

    30. Those criticising this series as diverting resources from supporting women in the “mainstream” series are correct – the solution to this problem isn’t segregation. The solution is education and changing attitudes, making sure that women truly get the same support as men in motorsport.

      That said: it’s not working. We still don’t have any women on the grid. Should women who want to race now have to wait until men and the sport get their act together in order to do so? I personally feel that it’s sad that a series like this is needed, but glad that it’s happening. Give them a spot on a grid – if it produces good racing and an exciting championship, maybe it will attract the right eye, and convince the right doubting heart to actually change something.

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