Spanish female talents discuss W-Series at RacingAuto Madrid
The motorsport exhibition held in Madrid hosted the three Spanish brightest female talents, as they discussed the upcoming W-Series season.
The Crystal Pavilion at the Madrid trade fair hosts RacingAuto, a national exhibition dedicated to motorsport and karting, from February 21st to 23rd.
The fair is an opportunity for the industry professionals to gather, showcase their achievements and generate new business opportunities, ahead of the 2020 championships.
On Saturday, the Royal Spanish Automobil Federation (RFEdA), which promotes the event,
hosted a very interesting panel: Marta Garcia, Belen Garcia and Nerea Martí took to the stage and discussed the upcoming W-Series season, as the three ladies will face each other's competition in the second year of the all-female championship.
The Spanish drivers will be the largest group on the grid after the Brits (5): joining 2019 race-winner Marta Garcia, both Belen Garcia and Nerea Martí come from an impressive season in the competitive Spanish Formula 4 championship, which proved to be a real training ground for some of the most promising female talents around the continent. Russian 16-year old Irina Sidorkova, who also competed in the Spanish-based series, will in fact join the W-Series as well.
Marta Garcia, 19, is expected to be a front-runner after her debut season where she finished fourth in the point standings. Marta explained the innovative selection process, which famously gave an opportunity to many drivers that had dropped out from major formula championships due to financial reasons. "We had a first test selection in Austria, then we tested with the Formula 3 cars for the final 20 places on the grid" - she said.
The inaugural season impressed everyone, from international medias to the drivers themselves: "The whole operation really surprised me for how it was organized" - added Marta, mentioning the Hitech team that ran all the 20 cars, the series hospitality and the media opportunities it provided, ultimately resulting in an unprecedented exposure.
Certainly, the free-to-air Channel 4 TV coverage in the UK played a fundamental role in bringing the new faces of the championship to a wider audience; not every region was as lucky to reach such figures, but Spanish fans could nonetheless count on the broadcasting deal with Teledeporte, as the interest for Marta Garcia's results grew.
"It was a lot of visibility" - she said, adding to the key role that W-Series already played in her career so far. After being considered one of the most exciting karting talents in Europe, Garcia had in fact a difficult switch to single-seaters, enduring a tough F4 campaign in 2017.
"I was training and studying, it was a very difficult first year, as a lot of the other drivers were also combining more championships together".
She then went back to karting before the big break-through opportunity of W-Series, which showed an extraordinary progress for the Spanish talent. She won the Norisring round and fought at the front of the field the entire season, hopefully becoming a inspiration for the next generation of racing girls.
The second wave of Spanish drivers, joining the grid in 2020, had a thrilling battle in the Spanish F4 "Female Trophy": Belen Garcia and Nerea Martí finished equal on points, with Garcia ultimately claiming the title. It will be their first racing season outside of the home borders and the two ladies described their first impressions on the W-Series: "It was an incredible experience", said Martí - "the selections were very hard in Almeria, also because it happened straight after a race weekend. On track we're all rivals, but outside the track the atmosphere was great."
Belen Garcia, 20 years old and also at her first season of formula racing, said she had a "perfect season", starting from her results in the Spanish F4 and at the FIA Motorsport Games, amplified by the W-Series selection.
Both the new-entries have been training extensively during the winter, with on-track testing programmes and off-track preparations. "I'm training at 100%, both physically and mentally and I can't wait for the season to start" - said Nerea, who admitted she's also feeling a bit nervous, as the W-Series represents a big opportunity for her career.
They will have to learn all new tracks and manage the pressure in the highly regarded DTM international environment: "It will be new circuits, new drivers, a new championship. But we had a good pre-season and used the simulator to learn the tracks" - added 18 year-old Valencian Martí.
The new racetracks won't be a challenge only for the newcomers, as also Marta Garcia will travel for the first time to most of the 2020 venues. Only Brands Hatch (UK), Norisring (Germany) and Assen (Netherlands) were in fact confirmed for the W-Series sophomore year.
New additions include the opening round of Igora Drive (Russia), Anderstorp (Sweden), Monza (Italy) and, notably, the two final events on the Formula 1 supporting bill at Austin (USA) and Mexico City.
"It's incredible to be racing with F1" - said Belen. "I can't believe that last year we were racing at home basically, and this year we will be with DTM". "It's a big jump, in front of all motorsport" - echoed Martí.
"I still think the top-12 drivers from last year will have a bit of an advantage, knowing some of the circuits and mostly the ambience" - said Marta Garcia, who also has been using the simulator to get up to speed with the new tracks.
With a better TV coverage outside the UK, the second year of W-Series can further increase its influence on the youngest generations, who are already perceiving the all-female championship as a career milestone en route to their dreams.
"When I was a kid, I grew up watching Alonso competing" - concluded Marta Garcia. "Formula 1 is always the dream, even though you know it's going to be a lot of work. But W-Series is changing things."