The all-female W Series championship announces its on-track return for 2021, as the COVID-19 crisis forces the 2020 season cancellation.
The all-female W Series championship announced that it will not stage any on-track races throughout the 2020 season, following the global COVID-19 crisis.
The series, after a very successful debut in 2019, was set to run a sophomore campaign expanding to 8 events, including two rounds in conjunction with Formula 1 at the US and Mexico venues.
W Series, a support series of the popular DTM championship in Europe, was thus dependant on ITR (the DTM promoter) and F1 to reschedule its events, but it became immediately clear that given its international status, the current and rapidly evolving situation among countries posed an additional difficulty.
DTM announced a revised calendar on 3rd June, with only DTM Trophy as support series at six of its rounds, contested on only three countries (Germany, Belgium and Netherlands) in order to avoid extensive travel.
"After the resounding success of W Series’ debut season in 2019, our decision not to stage on-track races until 2021 is not one that has been taken lightly." - said Catherine Bond Muir, the series CEO.
"W Series is a global movement that exists to support the careers of female racing drivers everywhere, and to foster interest in and enthusiasm for motor racing among girls and women all over the world. The 18 women who had qualified to race in the 2020 W Series represent 12 different countries, and the eight circuits on which they were due to race this year are located in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America and Central America. Delivering an international calendar of the kind that W Series requires, so as to take W Series’ diversity and inclusion message to girls and women globally, while prioritising during a global pandemic the health and safety of our drivers, our staff and the many other people who make W Series events such a success, requires resource at a level beyond the scope of a brave new start-up such as W Series."
"However, now that we have taken the very difficult but ultimately unavoidable decision to end any uncertainty surrounding our 2020 plans, we will focus our energies clearly on 2021, when we will resume our on-track racing programme, bigger and better than ever before."
W Series will now focus on a 2020 Virtual championship - the W Series Esports League - the first simracing championship fully dedicated to female entrants, and will be back on race tracks for 2021 with "at least two races on the Formula 1 calendar".
"In the meantime, this year, we remain committed to developing our drivers and entertaining our loyal fans all over the world." - added Bond Muir. "To that end, we are progressing with our exciting and innovative new W Series Esports League, which will go live on June 11 2020. In addition, our brilliant management team – including 13-time F1 Grand Prix winner David Coulthard and our hugely experienced Racing Director Dave Ryan – will continue to provide our drivers with invaluable career advice and support."
All of the 20 selected racers are expected to take part in the Esports League, which will start in a week time on the Monza Circuit. Racing on the benchmark platform of iRacing, the series will count on the partnership of Logitech, which is currently providing all the drivers with the same simulation equipment.
The virtual championship follows the likes of other major racing series such as IndyCar, NASCAR and Formula E and will end on 13th August with the Silverstone round.