Formula 1 is planning to develop a new women’s racing series.
The championship — which would be for younger drivers aged 16 to 22 — is planned to run alongside the similarly all-female W Series which has hit financial difficulties, canceling its last 3 events in 2022.
It is believed that the series would form part of the Formula 2 and Formula 3 feeder pyramid, and could come as early as 2023.
It is likely there will be between 12 and 15 drivers on the grid.
F1 would not confirm details of the series but a spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring the best possible opportunities for women to get into our sport and to get the skills and experience necessary to get to the top of F1.”
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The news comes after Lewis Hamilton criticized F1 for not affording more help to W Series.
W Series, which aims to be a feeder for women into F1, was supposed to hold its penultimate round of the year in support of this weekend’s United States GP, however fundraising issues led to them curtailing their season early.
Jamie Chadwick, Britain’s runaway leader, was crowned champion for the third time, maintaining her 100% record in the championship.
Hamilton, speaking to the media on Thursday, said he felt F1 should have done more to help W Series.
“There is not enough representation across the board, within the industry,” stated Hamilton.
“And there’s not really a pathway for those young, amazing drivers to even get to Formula 1, and then you have some people who say we’re never going to see [another] female F1 driver ever. So that’s not a good narrative to be putting out.
“So I think we need to be doing more, and with the organization, with Formula 1 and Liberty [Media, F1 owners] doing so well it’s not a lot for them to be able to help out in that space.”
What will it take to get F1’s next female driver?
It has been 30 years since there was a woman racing in F1, and Sky Sports F1’s Danica Patrick and Jenson Button had their say on the subject during Friday’s practice build-up.
“I don’t know if it is necessarily in the form of a series as much as it is a culture and accepting and giving them a chance,” said Patrick, widely renowned as the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing.
“I come from a unique position where I just came up through the ranks, I didn’t drive in a female series, there was no female-oriented element to it.
“I am a girl and I know that played into me having opportunities with sponsors but that still came up through the classic ranks so really what it takes to stick around and make it to the top is that you are given really good rides along the way and are able to show your talent.
“So it just really takes a culture of the people who own teams believing in them and giving them a chance, even if it just a test to see what they are capable of.
“I think there are definitely sponsors that jump on board because it is unique to sponsor a girl and they will get a lot of attention — but what it takes is that belief and faith that they are going to make it all the way to the top.
“I don’t think that it is necessarily a sponsor not going all the way to the top, it is a driver having all the talent to go to all the way to the top.
“There are plenty of men that don’t make it all the way so they just need to be at the right place at the right time and be given good opportunities with a good car.
“I always knew in my heart that if I was given the opportunity with a good car I could show them what I was capable of and fortunately it worked out for me and my career and that is what just has to happen.”
Button, the 2009 F1 world champion, added: “I think for me, having W Series, I was never a big fan of separating men and women in racing but I also think it is great for the young kids and the young girls having a role model like Jamie Chadwick as a driver.
“When you look at youngsters, there is a very small percentage of women that actually want to go on and race cars and I think it is because they can’t see it.”