The W Series is selecting drivers on merit for its inaugural campaign
BY: AUTOWEEK STAFF
The W Series single-seater division for women is down to 28 finalists.PHOTO BY W SERIES
W Series, the new European single-seater racing series for women, is one step closer to taking the grid for the first time.
The league revealed on Monday the 28 candidates who were approved for the next stage of the selection process — a list that includes three Americans. The second stage of finalists were whittled down from the 54 who attended the series’ three-day selection event at the Test and Training International facility in Melk, Austria run by ex-Formula 1 driver Alex Wurz. The drivers were selected by judges David Coulthard, Alex Wurz, Lyn St. James and Dave Ryan.
“All W Series’ qualifier-drivers here at the Wachauring are superstars, every single one of them,” said Catherine Bond Muir, W Series CEO. “But the sad fact is that not all of them will continue to the next stage of our driver selection program. That’s competition. That’s sport. That’s racing.
“So to all of them who’ve made it through to the next stage, I say: congratulations and good luck in Almeria in March, the final stage of our driver selection program.”
That next step in Almeria, Spain will see the chosen 28 candidates take part in a four-day test in the W Series Tatuus F318 Formula 3 car. From this group, 20 drivers (18 plus two reserves) will be selected to race with W Series at six events in support of the DTM series in Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy and the UK, from May through to August.
St. James initially said the world didn’t need an all-female series, instead preferring to see women race head-to-head against men, but has since come around enough to be part of the process.
“The past three days has been excellent, but it has not been easy for the drivers or for the judges, the instructors and the people putting on the program,” St. James said. “As much as we’d like racing to be an exact science, and even though it’s always ultimately about lap times, this program has been able to put so many little pieces together to help evaluate not only the drivers’ talent but also the drivers’ potential.”
Meanwhile Coulthard has been a supporter of the concept from the beginning, has invested in the series and is its advisory board chairman.
“I’ve been immensely impressed by the commitment and attitude of all the competitors, and I really feel they’ve come here with open minds,” Coulthard said. “They’ve really embraced this Test and Training International facility and organization, which is world class.
“The whole process has further validated that the right team of people has been brought together since the initial conversations with Catherine and Sean [Wadsworth, W Series Chairman]. When I look at all of the experience we’ve hired, and when I look at many of the people whom I’ve worked with in the past in Formula 1, now part of the W Series team, it further confirms that we’re doing this the right way and giving the right opportunity to those who may have not have had this type of opportunity ever before.”
The 28 successful qualifiers, in alphabetical order, are:
Sarah Bovy, Belgium
Jamie Chadwick, UK
Sabre Cook, USA
Natalie Decker, USA
Marta Garcia, Spain
Megan Gilkes, Canada
Grace Gui, China
Esmee Hawkey, UK
Jessica Hawkins, UK
Shea Holbrook, USA
Francesca Linossi, Italy
Vivien Keszthelyi, Hungary
Emma Kimilainen, Finland
Natalia Kowalska, Poland
Stephane Kox, The Netherlands
Miki Koyama, Japan
Milou Mets, The Netherlands
Sarah Moore, UK
Tasmin Pepper, South Africa
Vicky Piria, Italy
Alice Powell, UK
Gosia Rdest, Poland
Naomi Schiff, Belgium
Shirley Van Der Lof, The Netherlands
Beitske Visser, The Netherlands
Alexandra Whitley, Australia
Fabienne Wohlwend, Liechtenstein
Caitlin Wood, Australian