W Series champion won't be allowed back in 2021
The W Series has clarified that its 2020 champion will not be able to return to the championship to defend her crown the following season.
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W Series Racing Director Dave Ryan confirmed the move was a requirement for the all-female championship to start awarding FIA superlicence points in its second season.
Most of the 2020 field has already been revealed, the 12 drivers with guaranteed places all choosing to contest a second season, including inaugural champion Jamie Chadwick, and six newcomers having been selected after the recent Almeria evaulation test.
Ryan said in an interview with the official W Series website: "From the 2020 W Series season onwards, W Series has been granted FIA Super Licence points eligibility, and one of the criteria attached to that is that the winning driver of the W Series championship may not compete in consecutive W Series championships – and that restriction will apply going forward.
"But, just to be clear, that didn’t apply to the 2019 W Series champion [Chadwick] since no FIA Super Licence points were awarded in respect of the 2019 W Series championship, but it does mean that whoever is W Series champion in 2020 will not be permitted to take part in the 2021 W Series championship, and so on."
Ryan admitted that barring the W Series' inaugural champion from returning had been considered, but concerns over whether the $500,000 top prize would be sufficient to allow her to land a seat higher up the single-seater ladder meant the restriction was not imposed.
"We spent some time debating it internally prior to the start of the 2019 W Series season," he continued. "But we decided that (...) it would defeat the object of our ambition if we were to withhold from our first ever champion the chance to defend her crown.
"In a sense, in the absence of suitable race drives that a W Series champion’s prize money would have made available, to do so would have been to punish her for her success.
“Having said that, as W Series becomes more established as a crucial step via which female drivers can ascend the ladder of professional motor racing, which is already occurring I’m glad to say, I hope that our best drivers – our winners and champions – will find suitable race drives in more senior championships than W Series, and perhaps their accumulated prize monies will enable them to afford those suitable race drives too."
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
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