It was only a couple years ago that I became interested in motorsports, particularly Formula 1, the top racing series in the world. Most people have probably heard about NASCAR, IndyCar, and Formula 1 but what about W Series? W Series is an all female racing series which started in 2019. If you’ve ever watched a motor race you’ll know there’s typically not many female drivers. Danica Patrick, a NASCAR and IndyCar driver, is one of the few female drivers in recent decades to gain enough success to become a household name. W Series was created to give more women an opportunity to participate in high level motorsports. The hope is that in the long term this may lead to a rise in female talent and open up opportunities in other better known series such as Formula 3, Formula 2, and ultimately Formula 1.
But W Series so far has not been the success many hoped for. This is more obvious now than ever as this year’s championship was just ended early. Right after this year’s Formula 1 championship concluded with another victory for Max Verstappen, W Series (an official support series for Formula 1) announced that it would not be continuing with its last 3 races of the year including the U.S. race. Why? Lack of financial support. W Series has quite literally run out of money. The official statement explains that instead of funding these last 3 races, the focus will be on raising funds to ensure that the series can continue for another year.
Clearly there is something wrong with how W Series is being received or managed. No other F1 support series is having these financial concerns. Is this a case of mismanaged funds, simply a dearth of investors, or both? W Series lacks both a committed fanbase and, apparently, sponsors. The problems are related as sponsors won’t invest in a racing series if they do not believe it has enough viewership. To watch W Series on TV is not an easy task, especially for someone in America where the races are only available on one uncommon channel and not available to watch on demand. Maybe there would be more viewers if the races were more accessible. The racing series does have entertainment value; the drivers and cars are largely of similar strength which increases the competition. Additionally, they’re racing at the same circuits as Formula 1, the most popular racing series in the world. Yet, W Series is still failing to thrive.
The early conclusion of this year’s championship is unfair to fans, teams, and the drivers. Jamie Chadwick was announced as the 2022 W Series world champion in a press release instead of on the top step of a podium at a track. Why are these female drivers not deserving to have a full series and battle it out until the end? This conclusion to the year makes Chadwick the undefeated W Series champion, but if the rumors are true, she’ll be moving on to IndyLights next year. Chadwick’s career path reveals yet another failing of W Series. W Series drivers are not moving on to other, better series. Despite having backing from Williams (a Formula 1 team), even Chadwick has not been offered an opportunity in one of the F1 feeder series such as Formula 3. Given that W Series not only has financial problems but also has not reached the goals it set out, this disappointed fan is doubting whether the series will be able to continue for much longer.