|Image courtesy of Twitter: @WSeriesRacing|
Hello you, my name is Luca but you can call me Luca. Yesterday, I was watching the first round of the W Series on Channel 4, and I was very happy with how the race went. Spoilers ahead for anyone looking to watch the race, I am going to talk about the series as a concept as well as the race and the season ahead.
When the series was announced, I was really disappointed. I still feel somewhat that way but less so, but I found the idea to be very pandering and backward, as a driver who just so happens to be a woman but also an abysmal driver at that, named Carmen Jordá. There are so many things I could rant about regarding Jordá but just take my word for it, she's comedic levels of terrible yet somehow has a platform in motorsport. She said that women can't compete with men, yet there are countless examples in racing where this isn't the case.
I felt that pandering to Jordá's view of segregation was a huge smack in the face for all women in motorsport, because there are many examples that showcase the fact that motorsport is one of the few sports where women and men can race together equally. I feared that Jordá's influence meant that she would get picked for the series despite the fact they were insisting they were picking the most capable drivers. Thankfully she wasn't picked so yeah.. big win for integrity there! Imagine that you say only women can race against women and being deemed not good enough by the people organising a series which did just that.
The series was started up with the intention for hand picking the eighteen greatest drivers who were women, having them compete in the new Tatuus F3 car across six races supporting the DTM. Unlike most major motorsport championships where multiple teams run a few cars, the W Series organisers work in collaboration with Hitech GP to run every single entry, and actually rotate the chassis around so one driver doesn't always have what may be the better car.
After an initial application list of over 60 drivers, evaluations began with drivers being measured on a number of factors such as racecraft, fitness, media training, data analysis and sponsorship pitches, before a series of knockout races deciding those who would become the W Series' main drivers. I will say something I find amazing about the W Series, none of the drivers have had to pay a dime to compete, which you never find in any racing series since you mostly always need a budget. Alice Powell hasn't competed in racing for years due to lack of budget so that's a good thing, and the winner of the championship earns a cash prize of half a million pounds to go towards whatever they may try and compete in for the future.
So fast forward to yesterday, I was really happy with how the race went. There were a few crashes, and eventual race winner Jamie Chadwick did have to recover after she went off on the first lap. Chadwick got back the lead from Sarah Moore after a safety car was brought out for an incident where Canadian driver Megan Gilkes suffered brake failure and collided with Finland's Emma Kimiläinen.
But that in and of itself is something I'm finding really troubling about the existence of this series and women in motorsport as a whole.
Last year at the Macau Grand Prix, a driver called Sophia Flörsch had a monumental accident in which she lost control as a result of a miscommunication from the car ahead of her, and was launched over a kerb into a photographer stand. There is footage of the accident which, well let's just say I normally have a good stomach for seeing these sorts of incidents but I couldn't watch that beyond the first time.
Flörsch had to have surgery for a spinal fracture which was an operation that lasted 17 hours but thankfully survived, and is now racing in the new Formula 3 Regional European championship. However, I genuinely saw some people saying "Well if she was a man, that wouldn't have happened".
This is despicable! It's like, because women are such an under-represented group in motorsport, their actions are over-analysed so much to the point that the inevitable error or terrible driver who just so happens to be a woman will be the centre of attention and the reason for this is simply because they are a woman.
This is why Carmen Jordá is such an awful figure to represent women in motorsport, being as slow as she is yet being able to buy her way into becoming a Lotus/Renault development driver, and then somehow ending up as FIA representative for women in motorsport. It sends a dangerous message to the world of motorsport that the notion of women being incapable is actually backed by highly known fact.
When in truth, you see someone as highly successful as Jamie Chadwick who was the GT4 class champion in British GT in 2015 aged just 16 at the start of the season. She also became the first woman to win a British F3 race at Brands Hatch last year, and then at the start of this year she won the Middle Eastern and Indian based MRF Challenge, a single seater series which keep European based drivers occupied during the colder months. She may not have a career like her fellow Ginetta graduate Lando Norris but you can't say that isn't a career that doesn't reflect her quality as a driver.
Then you have Alice Powell, a Formula Renault champion in the UK and Asia as well as a GP3 points scorer, and Sarah Moore who won the Ginetta Juniors championship in 2009, Beitske Visser who was a part of the Red Bull junior programme and won a few races in what we know now as German F4. Even Marta García who finished third in the race earlier today to Chadwick and Powell, she didn't have a good start to her single seater career but pulled off some incredible overtakes to seal her place on the podium in a car that is a step up from the entry level formulae she competed in. You clearly can have drivers of quality but these old conservative mindsets are refusing to acknowledge it.
Round about the time of Jamie Chadwick taking that historical first win in British F3 last August, a BBC article came out about it linked on Twitter and a response I saw was "Wow, it took a woman that long to win in British F3? And they're always going on about how they deserve equal pay", to which I berated that cunt. Then during the televised broadcast for the Formula E Hong Kong ePrix, Jamie was one of the guest pundits in the studio and I innocently said on Twitter "Could we see Jamie in Formula E soon?", to which I get the response from some old man, "Wow you have no idea what you're on about" followed by an obnoxious laughing crying emoji and they blocked me before I could reply.
This is just utterly pathetic and close minded, and I've become accustomed to this. Which is why I feel the W Series may do more harm than good, because yes we do want some young girls to turn on the TV and see some potential idols racing at the forefront but it's also showing some admittedly under par drivers perhaps. Since there probably aren't anywhere near enough drivers of quality to fill the grid, the gaps between first and last could be a lot bigger than other equivalent championships.
I hate mainly that this attitude really only applies to women. If you have someone as bad as Carmen Jordá in a race and she's doing as bad as she typically would do, it's because she's a woman. But if you have someone as bad as this Indian guy in Formula 2 at the moment called Maheever Raghunathan who is so many levels of awful, these same people aren't so quick to say anything about his gender. But even when it's a woman winning like Ana Carrasco, who won the World Supersport 300 motorcycle championship, I saw someone say "Should someone who never got better than 10th after winning two races be the champion?", my answer to that is yes because in that season, nobody else won two races and couldn't overhaul her points lead.
The segregation of women in this W Series is something I really don't like and having already said many examples of women winning championships that men compete alongside them in, the idea that this series is meant only for women and therefore due to the lower quantity of higher quality women drivers at this level in motorsport, it does put the idea in the head that some of these drivers are only able to "compete alongside other women" like in other sports.
But whilst I still think that the money that went into this series would be better spent funding the careers of a few select women who are the most unmistakably highest quality, the W Series is meant to act as a platform to help publicise the women in this position and the prize fund for the champion is to help them fund their career for the following season and thus the drivers without a budget such as Powell can appeal for sponsors.
The W Series isn't intending to be the final step for all women in motorsport to compete, it is a stepping stone where the drivers who are of quality can indeed showcase that they deserve to step up to perhaps FIA Formula 3 and beyond. So whilst I still disagree with the notion that this series needs to exist at all, at least it's giving these women a platform to appeal for sponsorship and potentially compete alongside their male counterparts.
Recent comments from Helmut Marko really pissed me off. Most comments by him piss me off, as he's a senile old man with no spine and has the job of funding the careers of Red Bull affiliated juniors such as the ever promising (sarcasm) Dan Ticktum, or Dan Tantrum as I like to call him since he likes throwing hissie fits and crash people off on purpose. Anyway that's neither here nor there.
Marko said recently that racing is not in women's nature, to that I say get fucked. Because of this, I'm hoping something in particular happens.
Red Bull are affiliated with Aston Martin, who have just taken over the organisation of the Autosport BRDC (British Racing Driver's Club) award from McLaren. This award is given to a young British driver at the end of every year after testing themselves against other young Brits in a variety of race cars, and such winners include David Coulthard, Jenson Button, Dario Franchitti, Anthony Davidson, Paul di Resta and current F1 drivers such as George Russell and McLaren's own Lando Norris.
The winner receives a cash prize and a drive in a McLaren F1 car, but now with the departure of McLaren, Red Bull are now taking their place as the provider of the F1 car that the winner gets to test. So with Jamie Chadwick's ties to Aston Martin (being a factory GT driver), I'm hoping she gets onto the list of Aston Martin Autosport BRDC award contenders and I think she would be in a position to win. Perhaps she would face strong opposition from such drivers as Max Fewtrell, Kiern Jewiss, Olli Caldwell and undoubtedly many other potential nominees.
Olli, I know you're my mate and you're probably reading this but I just want Helmut Marko to know that his comments would be followed up by Jamie Chadwick being handed a test drive in a Red Bull F1 car. That would put the PHATTEST smile on my face, seeing that prick have to see one of his cars being driven by a woman.
Overall, I can see the benefits of the W Series and I am now contemplating going to the season finale at Brands Hatch in August. I am rooting for Jamie Chadwick to win, but will also be cheering on drivers such as Alice Powell, Marta García, Beitske Visser, Vicky Piria, Sarah Moore and Miki Koyama who charged from near the back of the grid to finish 7th and was on the pace of the top five. I hope all of them can find stable race drives in the future no matter what that may be in.
I hope Powell and/or Moore can get the funds to compete in the British Touring Car Championship since I believe having a woman in the series which is highly televised on ITV4 could potentially be a dream for sponsors in the UK. After today, Marta García really impressed me with her racecraft and pulling off almost Ricciardo-esque overtakes and has made up for her underwhelming first year in single seaters.
But most of all, whilst Jamie Chadwick already has a stable motorsport career with Aston Martin factory drives in the VLN series at the Nürburgring in Germany and also is a part of the Fernando Alonso Esports roster, I think she's our best shot at the moment of having a woman potentially succeed in top level motorsport. Whether she does or not, I don't know.
However, if the W Series can do anything, it's having a little girl see Jamie Chadwick, Alice Powell and Marta García stand on that podium yesterday and ignite a spark in her eye, and make them want to achieve what they see on that TV. Isn't that how it all begins?
In the series of books I aim to write about a racing driver, a young boy named Alex Harrison, I will have a few young girls compete also alongside him, namely the character of Leonié 'Leo' Taylor. She will face the typical BS that most girls in motorsport are faced with, the obstacles and pompous attitudes that come with being a girl in mostly a rich boy's sport. I hope that Leo as a character will in turn inspire women to compete in racing, perhaps.
There are many other drivers competing in karting and cars that I have my eye on, such examples include Ella Stevens who won the BirelART UK Cadet karting championship in 2017 and the LGM Privateer karting class in 2018. Then there's Abi Pulling who has back-to-back championships in the Super One National Junior TKM series in 2017 and 2018 (having finished runner-up in 2016), Emily Linscott who won the BKMC junior karting title in 2016 (after only starting racing at the start of that year) and finally Juju Noda, who has been breaking lap records in F4 and F3 machinery in her local Japan and she's barely old enough to race them, yet she's going quicker than those who are actually able to race them!
So whilst the W Series is well intentioned, it could do more harm than good but at the moment, it's tackling a very important issue. Women in motorsport can and will succeed, and soon we will look back on these days and be glad this is behind us, as women and men will race on equal terms and can be just as competitive.
The opportunities don't always come the way of women and this is at the very least, a good place to start laying the foundations for the future.
If you want to follow the W Series, it's broadcast on Channel 4. The first round was yesterday at Hockenheim so you could probably find it on catchup, and as for the rest of the season, it goes as follows: Zolder, Belgium on May 18th. Misano, Italy on June 8th. Norisring, Germany on July 6th. Assen, Netherlands on July 20th. Then the final round at Brands Hatch, Britain on August 11th.
Hope you enjoyed what I had to say today. Yeah I know, the opinion of a man about a women's racing championship, why do we need another opinion of someone like me? Well I'm glad you made it this far at least.
If you liked what you see and want to see more from me, follow me on Twitter @TheLucaFormat and consider adding yourself to my mailing list, by going to the side on your desktop and dropping your email into the 'Follow By Email' option. Hope to have you all back here soon for some more blabs of mine!
So until we meet again,