W Series eyeing regular F1 support slots in 2021
The W Series could become a regular support category at Formula 1 events in 2021 if plans that are currently being discussed come to fruition.
The all-female championship's 2020 season, which was canned in June due to the COVID-19 crisis, was already supposed to visit the United States and Mexican F1 Grands Prix.
When the cancellation announcement was made, it was stressed that both events would figure on any provisional 2021 schedule. However, the relationship between the series and F1 looks set to expand further next year.
Up to now W Series has supported DTM events, but with the German tin-top series facing an uncertain future following the withdrawal of Audi, it has had to look elsewhere.
As revealed by Motorsport.com, plans are in the works to split F2 and F3 in 2021, with only one of the feeder categories appearing on any given GP support bill.
That opens up track time for another support event. Currently between them F2 and F3 account for eight track sessions of free practice, qualifying and races, which could become just five in 2021, assuming that the single series featured at each event will expand to three races.
The three spare slots could potentially be used for free practice, qualifying and a race for the W Series.
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
A closer relationship between the two championships would make a lot of sense for Liberty Media, as it will reflect its stated push for diversity – and possibly help to fast-track a female driver into F1. It would also be a huge boost for W Series sponsors such as ROKiT.
In July, W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir suggested that the championship was already looking elsewhere for alternatives to DTM support slots.
“The message that I would want to give is that if DTM is racing we’d love to continue the partnership but if it doesn’t then we have back-up plans,” she told Motorsport.com. “We’re considering everything at the moment, we don’t operate in a microcosm.”
When the 2020 W Series was cancelled in June, F1 boss Ross Brawn stressed his support for the category.
“W Series has had an incredible impact on the world of motorsport, and we were excited to have them join our schedule this year,” he said at that time.
“It is a big disappointment for all of us that due to the difficulties presented by COVID-19 the events will not take place, but we are looking forward to some exciting racing in 2021 when W Series returns.”
Additional reporting by Anna Duxbury
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