Claire Williams, Williams, Baku, 2019

Williams rethinks “critical” view of W Series

W Series

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Williams team principal Claire Williams admits she has revised her view of all-women junior single-seater formula W Series having visited the first round of the championship in Hockenheim.

She admitted she had been “critical” of the plans for the championship before going to see it for herself.

“I suppose I was somewhat reserved but somewhat critical of it in that I was worried it was a regressive step for women in motorsport and the promotion of that purely from a segregation perspective,” she said.

“At the moment our sport allows women to compete against men on a Sunday afternoon, unlike so many other sports: was creating a single championship for women only a regressive step?”

She said her visit to the season-opening race at the beginning of the month was a “good education for me”.

“I thought it was fantastic. The very fact that they’ve managed to get a whole new championship, regardless if it’s for men or women, off the ground in a short space of time, was pretty impressive. Organisationally it seemingly went very smoothly.

W Series start, Hockenheimring, 2019
“It gives a platform for women that they don’t have”
“And just to see a whole line of cars on the grid knowing that they were piloted for women was, I think, a historic moment. It was fantastic to see.

“It gives a platform for women that they don’t have at the moment. And if anything accelerates the process of promoting women in motorsport I think that can only be considered a good thing.”

Williams subsequent hired round one winner Jamie Chadwick to her team’s driver development programme. Chadwick “dominated” the weekend, said Williams.

Will W Series encourage more women to take up motor racing? Read @DieterRencken’s exclusive interview with Catherine Bond Muir in today’s edition of his RacingLines column on RaceFans.

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9 comments on “Williams rethinks “critical” view of W Series”

  1. Williams subsequent hired round one winner Jamie Chadwick to her team’s driver development programme.

    Poor Jamie Chadwick.

  2. robinsonf1 (@)
    22nd May 2019, 10:21

    I too was like Claire in thinking an all-female racing series was a regressive step (for similar reasons). But after seeing the first two rounds on free to air TV, accessible for all young girls to see, I’m now convinced otherwise. I can’t tell exactly what it was that changed my opinion, maybe it’s just refreshing to see so many women drivers competing against each other for wins/podiums as opposed to the occasional token female driver fighting towards the back of the pack. Regardless, I wish the series all the best and I honestly think a few seasons of W-Series, coupled with the good work of ‘Women in Motorsport’, will really help build an interest in motorsport amongst young girls – which we will all benefit from.

  3. My respect to anyone open-minded enough to change their initial opinion. Be it Claire, or you @robinsonf1

    1. Johnny Five
      22nd May 2019, 13:06

      My initial opinion on the announcement of the W series was that I would be open-minded and cautiously optimistic that such a series could succeed and change the mindset of the motorsport industry, while offering entertaining racing and opportunities to female racers they were not getting outside of such a series.
      I’ve not changed my opinion. I’m still open minded and cautiously optimistic.
      Does that mean I’m actually NOT open-minded?

      1. LOL, good question. Absence of evidence (i.e. a change in stance) is not evidence of absence (i.e. of open-mindedness). So you’re good to go. :)

  4. I know of one very senior commentator of the sport who is dead against this series, he thinks that if women want to compete they should go through the same series as the boys/men do. I think this is the right way to go, Women need a bit of time to get experience, learn the skills necessary before moving into direct competition with men.
    As more girls want to join at a younger age then is the time to start to mix, so they can grow their experience and skill at the same pace as the men.

    1. I think the platform is less about being “a step” to F1, but rather a platform to promote women drivers and hopefully inspire young girls who might be thinking it’s a boy sport.

  5. NeverElectric
    22nd May 2019, 21:53

    Perfectly OK to have a women-only championship.
    Certain elements in society will not like it, because they’d rather F1 was forced to have gender quotas and the like for every team, but F1 appears, in reality, to be as gender-selecting as most other sports are: the odd woman will compete on even terms with the men, but the majority will struggle to come close to even the slowest man on the F1 grid, so a women-only championship is good.
    Outside of the very PC world of social engineering, everyone knows that it is no accident the Paris Dakar, Safari Rally, WRC, V8 Supercars, multiple touring car championships, NASCAR, Indy Car – it is no accident that these championships are essentially male affairs.
    Not a very fashionable thing to say these days, I know.

    1. The issue is grass roots, there are fewer girls going karting and challenging the boys. Maybe the drop-out rate is higher for girls. Maybe many girls give-up before they even start because there’s very few examples of women “making it”.

      At the very least this platform may inspire girls to keep pushing, to keep battling the boys in the karts. It is possible to make it. It’s not necessarily a boys club.

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