“It would be a massive shame if we lost W Series” – Horner

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said it “would be a massive shame if we lost W Series”, after reports of the all-female series’ potential demise.

News of the the centrally-run championship’s financial difficulties broke ahead of its Singapore round last weekend. W Series operated with a reduced crew as it made its first visit to Asia, supporting Formula 1.

Its CEO Catherine Bond Muir admitted the series faces a “cash shortfall” as promised income from an investor had failed to materialise. She said the championship will know by the end of next week whether its final rounds at Circuit of the Americas in the USA and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico will be able to go ahead.

Horner said the championship, which is racing on F1’s support bill for the second time this year, has played an important role in encouraging more women to pursue careers in motorsport.

“It would be a massive shame if we lost W Series,” he said. “I think it’s been a great thing to get girls racing and a championship that spoke to women. So it would be hugely disappointing if it were to disappear.

“Hopefully that won’t be the case. I think there’s an awful lot of interest in more diversity, not just within F1, but within motorsport. And I think the W Series has been a really positive advocate of that.

“So hopefully a sensible solution can be found for the future and it’s something we continue to follow with great interest.”

McLaren’s Andreas Seidl said he has only seen “rumours in the media” about the problems W Series has faced. “[But] for sure F1, we all as an F1 community, have an obligation to make sure that we keep supporting the junior categories,” he said.

W Series began as a Europe-based championship in 2019, but upon its return to action last year added a flyaway round at Circuit of the Americas as it moved onto the F1 support bill.

Having held a single round outside Europe in 2021, half of W Series’ eight race weekends this year are ‘fly-aways’, increasing their freight costs. The season opened in Miami in May. It was originally due to support this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, before swapping that evet for Singapore.

If the season does not continue Jamie Chadwick will win the championship for a third time. She holds a 50-point lead over closest rival Beitske Visster.

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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30 comments on ““It would be a massive shame if we lost W Series” – Horner”

  1. Buy the thing if you’re so emotionally invested, Christian. Maybe Helmut and the ghost of Friedrich Mateschitz will go halfsies or thirdsies with you.

    1. Yeah, wouldn’t be such a huge amount if some of the F1 people pool the money it should easily get them through the season (they claimed a sponsor bailed on their contract for several million) and build up the next seasons

      1. Unless there is substantial change in the category, I would consider it uninvestible. It’s been and abject failure if the point was to showcase female talent and get said talent to move up the ranks. Jamie Chadwick’s incredible success there couldn’t exemplify the failures of the category any more poignantly. Could you imagine a driver in any other junior Formula category winnign 3 championships in a row?

        1. Given that for most other series at this level 21 races (or there abouts) would be a single championship crowning 1 champion, no I can not. In other series the champion has to contest far more races against a far higher quality grid to be crowned.

          Perhaps giving a ‘champion’ $500k for 6 & 8 race long series contributed to the massive debts it has.

  2. I think if W Series wants to survive it has to get a driver into serious F1 consideration. Chadwick seems obvious given she’s won it so many times, but if F1 teams aren’t going to realistically give her a shot then what’s the point of it? None of the drivers have gone ‘upwards’ as it were so currently it’s not a feeder series like F3 or F2 or a seperate championship entirely like Formula E or IndyCar – it’s just there for the sake of being there. It needs credibility to survive.

    1. @rocketpanda I have been thinking did they really thought this whole W Series through. There has been a lot of talking throughout the history how racing needs more women. They invented the W Series and said it is the answer to this problem. It seems like it has solved some of the problems but inveted new ones..

    2. @rocketpanda they are racing in regional F3 cars. The step up to F2 would already be huge, let alone going from W Series directly to F1.

      FIA F3 would be the logical step up. And see from there.

    3. W Series is F3 Regional level car wise, so on the same level as FRECA, FR Asia etc and they feed in to F3 not F1. Although the driver field is not even close to being F3 Regional quality with many of the W drivers never even having driven F4 prior.

      Despite the W Series marketing waffle and the ignorant comments on social media, no driver was going from W Series to F1. Chadwick couldn’t do well in FREC & champions from that series struggle in F3 never mind jumping multiple series straight to F1 from what is likely the weakest formula racing series anywhere.

      None of the drivers are remotely good enough to move upwards which explains why they haven’t. Chadwick did in a way move upwards in the form of her FREC drive in 2020 but it only lasted a season before she went back to W Series. It has no credibility, it never was going to have.

  3. Red Bull should back it for now on as a penalty for not respecting the budget cap.
    Happy ending for everybody.

    1. Lewisham Milton
      5th October 2022, 23:26

      Bring on the Red Cow Series!

  4. Financial concerns reflect lack of investment and public interest. No driver has made it into F1
    Perhaps proof of concept has not been achieved.

    1. Considering F2, F3 & realistically a real F3 Regional series like FRECA is in between W Series & F1 a driver making it to F1 was very unlikely and would not have happened in the time since it’s creation anyway.

      W Series is not a series that feeds in to F1, at most it would have fed in to F3 assuming any of the drivers were actually good enough to do so. Which as it turns out they haven’t been, unsurprisingly. You can’t turn muck in to brass.

  5. It would be a real shame if this building were to burn down, says concerned onlooker as the building is engulfed in flames.

    1. Especially since the onlooker is standing next to a fire extinguisher and has the fire department on speed dial. Afterall the issue is “just” money, something Horner could surely easily get into if he really wanted.

  6. Would it really Christian? A bunch of no-hoper drivers that had they been male would never have even been heard of at an international level? The best driver in the series is a back of the back F3 Regional quality driver so it is not as it has any talent in it.

    Blame those in charge, being £7.5m in debt shows they made some pretty bad decisions. It has racked up this level of debt & the number of races it had held barely got in to the double digits. There has obviously been some eye watering amounts of money wasted, one pay day not coming through has not caused this level of financial hardship.

    1. Blame those in charge, being £7.5m in debt shows they made some pretty bad decisions.

      Actually, it’s pretty remarkable that a series that covers the racing expenses of the entire grid has managed to make it this far into its third season. It would have revolutionized the way feeder series are run if it had worked, but it didn’t. That’s just business.

  7. Blame those in charge, being £7.5m in debt shows they made some pretty bad decisions.

    Actually, it’s pretty remarkable that a series that covers the racing expenses of the entire grid has managed to make it this far into its third season. It would have revolutionized the way feeder series are run if it had worked, but it didn’t. That’s just business.

    1. Entering into it’s third season it had fewer races than credible series had in a single season. Seasons 1 & 2 combined were only 14 races. I may be wrong as I am only going on second hand information here, but this debt figure predates the 2022 season. The 2020 FREC season (a series of comparable level) featured more races than W Series has held since it’s inception for the purpose of comparison.

      Even if you ignore the number of races, continuing to spend & accrue up to £7.5m worth of debt when the company has little investment is just irresponsible. It is not as is someone was going to show up and say “Sure, I will drop considerable funds to pay for these not very good drivers who can’t pay for themselves”.

      1. After a quick look at their latest report filed with Companies House, it looks like they’ve blown through about £50 million of cash from equity investors. That there’s another £7.5 million in debt that will be at least partially written off doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Perhaps they’ll be able to convince the debt holders to extend the maturity and give W Series time to raise more capital.

        I take your point about the number of races, though. W Series does seem to be a fundamentally flawed concept that isn’t likely to get any better.

        1. Want to make a million dollars racing cars? Start with two million.

  8. Coventry Climax
    6th October 2022, 1:38

    So much negativity in the comments above!
    I was – and still am – not very much in favor of a separate raceclass for women, when women are to be treated equal to men. When it was first announced, there were quite a few women racers who weren’t in favor either, just for this reason.
    It was never meant to be a feeder series for F1, but rather just there to draw more young women into motorsports. As such, I feel the W-series has a certain right of existence. That goal might have been achieved in other ways as well, but the W-Series is a rather straightforward way to try and tackle it.
    If the FIA really were serious about it though, they would have done quite a bit more for the cause, like setting up a more comprehensive W-ladder, making clear which step leads into which step of the M-ladder, and actively getting more young women to pick up motorracing. And having it more visibly broadcasted, worldwide. Where’s the spirit of ‘improving the show’ here? So, in a sense, if the W-series is discontinued, the FIA have failed.

    One of the things I massively like about the W-Series? They race without DRS.

    1. It exaclty that negativity why there has to be a W-series.
      What will happen to all the woman/girls that race and the support crew is also more female then other series.

      No little quotum in f3 f2 or f1 is going to achieve what W-series does.

  9. Lol. All I can think of is Homer Simpson standing alongside a soiled mattress saying…
    “No it wouldn’t” 😆

  10. The series does nothing if the winner isn’t added into F3 or F2 because this serie isn’t for a F1 feed.

  11. Welcome to reality. There’s lack of cash because there’s lack of audience, and therefore sponsors. There’s lack of audience because women are less interested in motorsports than men, and men know that such a contrived sport won’t offer the best competition with the best in the world, so they watch something else. The only way to have a woman competing in F1 is to let natural selection happen among the best of the best, and eventually statistics will do its thing.

  12. Not long ago someone suggested that they should focus on driving in the Indy Lights series. Probably no route to F1 but I agree that it is a good idea. A number of women have done well there. At least from there you can measure yourself and possibly move up on the motorsport ladder. Getting a seat is another question…

  13. I’d have loved this series to have a prize of a fully-funded F3 or F2 year for the winner, that way you’d genuinely get some progression into the pyramid. If it dies it seems like a real opportunity lost.

  14. Hehe, just make a rule that for every € spent over budget two go to W series.

    Financing secured in an instant.

    1. Better yet: 5% of every F1 team budget and every F1 driver is collect to fund Wseries.
      Either they can donate to a cause they said thet are commited to support or they are not commited at all.

  15. You really have to wonder what the point of the W Series is if the successful drivers aren’t given the opportunity to graduate to any of the higher-tier racing series. Which is effectively what viewers were promised when the series began.

    Jamie Chadwick rightly gets a lot of the publicity after winning successive championships, but this is now the third season of W Series for many other drivers. This includes both Alice Powell and Beitske Visser who have had consistently had good results but are apparently left with nowhere to go.

    This isn’t good for the drivers who are “stuck”, nor the series which is rapidly becoming stale.

    Horner’s opinion is all well and good but if the W Series doesn’t serve its intended aim then there are deeper problems that need addressing. The FIA’s “Women in Motorsport” campaign is beginning to look very hollow.

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