All-female championship W Series goes into administration

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All-female championship W Series has gone into administration eight months after bringing its third season to an early end.

Kevin Ley and Henry Shinners of Evelyn Partners LLP were appointed joint administrators of the series yesterday.

W Series was formed in 2019 as a junior championship for women racers. Jamie Chadwick won the inaugural season and went on to repeat her successes in 2021 and the curtailed 2022 season. The 2020 championship was not held due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The series cancelled its final three races last year, which were due to take place at Circuit of the Americas in the USA and the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico, due to financial trouble.

W Series, Brands Hatch, 2019
W Series was launched in 2019
At the time the series’ CEO Catherine Bond Muir was hopeful of finding backing which would allow the series to continue. However no plans for a fourth championship were announced.

“The news will be upsetting for the company’s employees and drivers together with the worldwide supporters of the championship,” said Ley.

“The company had been unable to commit to the 2023 race season due to its liquidity position. The directors had been in discussions with various parties to provide additional funding together with a potential sale of the business. Unfortunately, these discussions did not progress.”

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W Series originally appeared alongside DTM events in 2019. It held a total of 22 races won by Chadwick, Alice Powell, Beitske Visser, Emma Kimiläinen and Marta Garcia.

Visser won what turned out to be the final W Series race
The seven races which constituted its final season were all held alongside rounds of the F1 world championship. W Series’ final race, held in Singapore, was won by Visser.

The prospects of the series returning appear extremely slim. The administrators confirmed only one staff member remained, which is believed to be Bond Muir.

Evelyn will “explore all available options to allow the W Series to restart in the future,” said Shinners. “We are seeking expressions of interest in the business and assets of the company. We would ask that any interest is registered with us as quickly as possible.

“Staff had been made redundant or had left the business before our appointment and it has unfortunately been necessary to make the remaining staff member redundant. The joint administrators will be looking to support any staff impacted by the administration, given the financial position of the company, with making and progressing any claims with the Redundancy Payments Office.”

F1 Academy, a separate new junior championship for female racers, was announced by Formula 1 last year and has held three of its seven triple-header race weekends planned for this season. It is due to appear as a support event at the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in October and all of its races will take place at grand prix weekends next year.

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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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41 comments on “All-female championship W Series goes into administration”

  1. The irony is that WEC is arguably doing a better job at promoting female drivers than W-Series did.

    1. WEC isn’t doing anything. That’s the key.

      The reason there are a lot of women racing in WEC is quite clear. There are enough teams/sponsors willing to fund entries with women behind the wheel.

      W series was just a box ticking exercise (as is the new FIA women’s series) and sponsors, racers and the audience can see straight through it

      1. WEC isn’t doing anything. That’s the key.

        Big credit has to go to Deborah Mayer, who was the driving force behind the Iron Dames project that gathered support from lots of different partners (including Iron Lynx, the FIA Women’s Commision and, to a lesser degree, Ferrari).

        Last year, Mohammed Ben Sulayem asked Mayer if she would join the FIA as President of the Women in Motorsport Commission, which she accepted. It’s good to see the leadership of the FIA recognizes her years of effort and asked her, rather than some of the perhaps more visible but ultimately far less effective people.

        1. MichaelN,
          Ferrari commitment to promote female drivers was part of the settlement they have reached with the FIA with regard to the fuel-flow saga.

          1. Right, but to their credit they subsequently continued and expanded the partnership. Still disappointed that the Dames are now racing a Porsche in the WEC.

      2. F1 Academy is not ‘new FIA women’s series’, in fact just like W Series this is not a series that falls under the FIA control.

  2. An all female racing series to promote more women in racing is the worst they can do.
    If you want to show that women are just as good as men, let them compete against them. Without comparisons, this is entirely pointless.

    1. Laughing Orc
      16th June 2023, 0:20

      You do realise it’s not as simple as that, right? Motorsport is hard to get into. Doubly so for young female drivers who aren’t given the opportunities that young male drivers get.

      In all likelihood there’s a Maxine Verstsppen or a Lois Hamilton already out there, but who has never had the opportunity to live their dream.

      1. It is much more probable there are several boys better than Max Verstappen.
        You can start with combat pilots some might not even want to be in F1 even if offered.
        He is right and why do you think it is their dream? Lot’s of people like to do thing they are not good at it and lots of people don’t like to do things they are good at.

        1. James (@laughingorc)
          16th June 2023, 16:55

          Huh? What do combat pilots have to do with anything?

          He’s not wrong in that the best way to show equality is to give male and female drivers the chance to compete on equal footing. The simple truth is that they currently don’t have equal footing as there are many more routes for young male drivers to get into Motorsport than there are for young female drivers.

      2. “Doubly so for young female drivers who aren’t given the opportunities that young male drivers get.”

        Lol. Ok. They get given far greater than equally as capable young male drivers get. Those male drivers don’t get free or heavily subsidised drives, don’t get any media attention let alone the attention W Series & F1 Academy drivers get, and certainly don’t get F1 driver academy & teams roles like those given to W Series drivers.

        Here’s a test, compare how much attention is given to Ugo Ugochukwu to that given Jess Hawkins.

  3. I’m shocked.

    1. It is kind of odd – all the talk makes it look like there would be a fllod of sponsors only waiting for some female racer or series to put cash on, but every time those sponsors fail to appear.

      1. When the talent fails to materialise, so do the sponsors…

        It’s almost as if sponsors want to back the drivers that stand a chance at succeeding and not the drivers that languish at the back of the grid, even in series at the bottom end of the ladder.

        When female drivers are only as good as the crap male drivers who don’t get invested in by sponsors, you cannot expect them to get investment either.

  4. No one could have predicted this!

    Anyone with basic common sense would understand that using even half the money that went into this series to sponsor the careers of promising female karters (both during the karting phase and as they move into junior formula series) would be exponentially more effective and financially feasible. However, instead of using patience or logic, they went for an instant headline/media brownie points.

  5. Now stop this exvcusive stuff and start being inclusive FIA

  6. This is enormously sad. Of course, it had looked on the cards for the best part of a year, now but until the twelfth hour strikes there’s always the hope of an eleventh hour saviour.

    W Series was something different; the arguments the funding could have been used to send one or two young women into F2 or 3 didn’t make sense because instead it put 18 (back) on track. It showed the gender imbalance in motorsport for what it is: if a whole field of women looked strange, surely entire championships of men should.

    I knew a lot of the people working there, including Catherine and although the series often didn’t have the resources or opportunities to do everything it wanted (an ironic sympathy with the careers of the drivers it was giving those to) it had the right intentions and was built with immense love and respect for its drivers and women in sport.

    There are things W Series did that, without it, never would have happened – the rediscovery of pioneers like Alice Powell and Emma Kimilainen and new talent like Bianca Bustamante and Abbi Pulling aside – from the apparently mundane to the startlingly gigantic. Prior to W Series’ Puma collaboration no manufacturer had ever made a race suit designed to fit women’s bodies, for instance. And until a field of women were driving and being watched, being shown racing and winning, every weekend there was a very genuine sense of ennui about why the gender imbalance in motorsport is so severe – I haven’t seen an article claiming any woman good enough would automatically receive so much sponsorship it was simply the natural way of things that all women’s careers failed for years now.

    It’s really unfortunate that something so instrumental and which challenged the big institutions of motorsport has ended. But it didn’t fail; there is a changed landscape and attitude towards women in motorsport. There has been much more success in getting women into prominent positions, teams like the Iron Dames and Girls Only in endurance racing are taken seriously as competitors rather than novelties, F1 was forced to launch F1 Academy – which certainly isn’t raising the profile of its drivers as well as W Series did – and series without women are looking to find some to enter. There’s a 40% women field at rallycross this weekend.

    Those are ripple effects, from W Series changing the conversation. You can’t say anymore that you can’t find women, only that you didn’t pick them. That determination and diligence from the team deserved more and it’s a real, real shame that its career ends the same way as so many women drivers’ do: underfunded and cut short.

    The effect it had can’t be erased, though. I have a huge amount of love and appreciation for everything Catherine and the team did and I hope this is just the start of seeing what can be done. Sometimes breaking the glass ceiling, unfortunately, involves throwing something at it and it doesn’t always survive but it certainly did make the cracks.

    1. Thank you for this lovely and informed comment on the series’ legacy, @hazelsouthwell.

    2. You can’t say anymore that you can’t find women, only that you didn’t pick them.

      I feel like you left out an important word and that is ‘talented’.

      W series did not find any driver with enough talent to successfully compete above F4-level machinery. That, ultimately, is its legacy.

      1. @proesterchen This just isn’t true; multiple drivers from the series have gone on to run sports cars and the series car itself was a regional F3 spec. That some of its younger drivers are now in F1 Academy in F4 equipment is more of a malfunction of the offering, given Abbi Pulling should certainly be in F3 – although it’s the right level for eg: Bianca Bustamante, who also seems to be thriving there. (and is only just 18)

        W Series couldn’t have been expected to change decades of statistical and structural inequality in three short seasons but there are many more women with opportunities now than there were before it. It’s a numbers game that there are fewer women in motorsport than men; only a tiny fraction of the little boys who start up the ladder reach FIA F3, for the little girls the number is tinier because they start off fewer. W Series addressed that and its success or failure isn’t in what happened to the drivers who competed in what should have been only its inaugural seasons but in the effect it had on changing perspectives around women’s participation.

        1. Which W series driver went on to Formula Regional, Formula 3, Formula 2, Indycar, or Formula 1 and competed there successfully?

          1. Shouldn’t the test really be has the rate of female participation in karting/e-sports risen as a result of seeing prominent examples of women in motorsport? Because that’s really the issue, widen the base to make it more likely we’ll uncover female talent of the level able to compete in F1 and other senior forms of motorsport. As @hazelsouthwell says, it’s a numbers game and there are just more boys who enter at the bottom.

          2. I don’t think that was the explicit goal of the organisers putting on W series, so I would consider any change in participation in karting as incidental.

            I agree that that is where we’re most likely to find a truly competitive driver, rather than bringing back all those who already tried and failed to climb the ladder.

    3. @hazelsouthwell My mind doesn’t understand if you have a talented woman racing in F3/WS/FA or somewhere else it could/should be a big opportunity for sponsors to get more air time. Maybe it is all about gender. What if she fails and we look like bunch of Steiners and maybe our social sites will be full of trash because we backed up women instead of some promising young boy..

    4. But it didn’t fail; there is a changed landscape and attitude towards women in motorsport. There has been much more success in getting women into prominent positions, teams like the Iron Dames and Girls Only in endurance racing are taken seriously as competitors rather than novelties

      The Iron Dames project was launched a year before the W Series was announced, and were already on the (class) podium of the Gulf 12 Hours in 2018 before the W Series had run its first event.

      Their recognition as a serious team has far more to do with their own success than with the W Series; like finishing 4th in the 2019 ELMS ahead of their fellow Kessel Racing drivers and taking two (class) second places in the process. They repeated their 4th place in 2020, with three more (class) podium finishes (out of five races!). Their 2021 season was less successful, in large part due to two no-scores, but they still took two (class) podiums. They came back strong in 2022, finishing 3rd and taking a (class) second place and a (class) win at the final Portuguese round.

      Ultimately, that’s the way to do it. Finish on podiums, win races. And that’s where the W Series hasn’t delivered. Even its all-conquering Chadwick is now the last placed full-time entry in the Indy Lights series (Lindh has missed a round, Sowery two – but took a podium in Alabama, and Pierson three).

    5. W Series was something different; the arguments the funding could have been used to send one or two young women into F2 or 3 didn’t make sense because instead it put 18 (back) on track

      This depends entirely on the goal. If the goal is to make female racing series its own thing and not have a goal of men and women competing together. Then yes, putting 18 women in a seat instead of two is the way to go.

      But I feel the argument for making an all-female F3 or F2 team was instead to create an opportunity for both female drivers and female engineers and other race crew members to gain experience and earn a spot in those racing series and I still think everyone would have been better served by this in the long term, especially if or rather when there would have been successes by said team and drivers. But in the end we’ll never know if that would have been success. I don’t think W Series has done much either, though, in the end the only success is Chadwick and I can’t shake the feeling that she likely would’ve gotten the same opportunities as F1 and FE test driver without W Series.

      1. All female F3 or F2 teams would realistically require drivers good enough to be in F3 & F2, which is the problem, there really isn’t any! They would simply be drivers that would not be front runners in Formula Regional plonked in F3 when they aren’t really deserving to be there and the results would reflect that, they would be consistently off of the pace.

        Chadwick’s inclusion in the Williams young driver programme pre-dates W Series, and the FE test was because she fit the criteria at the point.

    6. One thing you didn’t mention that I really enjoyed as a spectator is the fact that all the drivers were picked based on racing ability (not their ability to pay for a drive) and given equal machinery. The biggest block to talent (whether male or female, white or black) is money. There’s plenty of F2 and F3 drivers who only have a seat because of the size of their wallet, or are able to get a seat in a better team because of the money they bring, and this wasn’t the case in W Series. I hope other categories could learn from this.

      1. As long as drivers with wealthy backers don’t preclude genuine talents from graduating through the ladder, I prefer them to foot the bills rather than chasing them out only to be replaced by middling drivers with less wealthy backing.

  7. Well, I for one am sorry to see it go.

    There, I said it.

  8. I still think it’s silly that F1 opted to start another series rather than invest in the one that already existed.

    W Series was at least broadcast live abd the coverage of it was pretty good given how it was run on DTM & then F1 weekends.

    The new F1 academy series has no live TV coverage and the coverage it does get is really not very good. At Red Bull Ring they didn’t seem to even have cameras covering the whole circuit.

    If your going to do an all female series then at least treat and cover it like it’s an important thing which fans should watch. W Series did that, The academy does not.

    1. Why is it silly? W Series was a heavily flawed series with numerous problems that would be costly to fix, that is before you factor in the at least £7.5 million debt, a figure that was correct as of the end of 2021 is likely higher now. Then you have the cost of correcting the many problems W Series has, including buying a fleet of cars that are actually suitable for the drivers involved.

      W Series was broadcast because as you say it acted as a guest series to DTM and F1, meaning it could pay them to produce TV coverage using the equipment already at the track and set up for the main event. There is no such arrangement for F1 Academy in 2023 as it does not consistently races as a support series to one series, and the cost of sending a dedicated crew is far too cost prohibitive. It is after all just a F4 series, the number of ‘fans’ that will actually watch would not justify the expense. Especially for a series as heavily financially subsidised as F1 Academy is.

  9. What this needs is multi-year funding with syndicated TV coverage and traveling along with the F1 circus. Otherwise it will never get off the ground to self-sustainability.


    1. W Series had just that with DTM and F1, it wasn’t self sustainable.

      What is needed is drivers who pay their way 100% without subsidies and drivers that are good enough to climb up the ladder.

    2. What is needed is people to watch it. Without it there’s no funding and no real sport.

  10. Neil (@neilosjames)
    15th June 2023, 19:10

    I (on balance, probably) liked the idea of W Series, but the business plan behind it seemed to be hoping some sponsor gave them a massive stack of cash, for negligible exposure, so they could keep giving away drives and ridiculously inflated (given the level) prize money. I have no idea if they had a plan beyond that… maybe “hope F1 buys us and pays for it instead” or “hope a TV company has an accountancy malfunction and adds a few zeroes to a TV deal”… but perhaps it was always doomed to be a short-lived venture.

    Hopefully F1 Academy, and maybe putting power steering into F4, F3 and F2 cars, might do more long-term good than W Series did.

  11. Since motorsport is one of few sports where men and women can compete against each other on equal terms,
    I honestly cannot say that I’m disappointed for W Series collapse. It was a flawed concept from the start, and it did nothing for women racers, including those who raced in it.

    For example, based on her career before W Series, Abbi Pulling looks like a promising talent. Unfortunately, she wasted two years of her career in W Series, and is now wasting another one in F1 Academy.
    Since she is a member of Alpine driver academy, why didn’t they secure her a F4 or F3 seat? Wouldn’t that be a better opportunity and benchmark of her abilities as a driver?

    If there is inequality in motorsport, no matter the type (gender, racial, economical), it needs to be addressed from the bottom of the racing pyramid by making karting and junior categories more affordable and accessible for anyone.
    And then, let the talent rise to the top.

    1. I don’t understand how Abbi Pulling looked like a real talent. She was average even at British F4 level. As a second-year driver she won nothing while her rookie teammates all won races. She was dominated by Chadwick in W Series who in turn was average at best in (almost all) mixed gender series she races in. And is now at the back in Indy NXT.

      I do agree – fund them with an F3 seat and let them prive themselves amongst peers. The W Series, and now the F1 Academy, is just literally a temporary side track.

  12. It would be best if there is money to support female drivers into F4 with extra cars in 3-4 teams. If they have talent it should be clear at the end of the season and give that driver(s) a spot in F3 if they are enough talented it should be enough to give a good female all the chance she needs.

  13. Electroball76
    16th June 2023, 14:27

    Perhaps they need to run a Bloke Series where all the cars are red, blue, or green. Reporters would ask them what its like to drive a fast car in front of lots of people. Fans and pundits would snidely question their driving talent and selection criteria.

  14. No woman sport will be profitable without people watching it. But women prefer to watch arguing Kardashians instead of women in Sport.

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