W Series, the all-female championship set to go racing in 2019, has announced a long-list of more than 50 drivers who will compete for a place on the grid of 18 when the season kicks off in May next year.
The qualifying drivers have been carefully selected from a pool of more than 100 applicants from 30 countries around the world, including the USA, China and India as well as the UK, Italy, Germany and Scandinavia.
“We are thrilled but perhaps not surprised by the response,” said Catherine Bond Muir, CEO of W Series. “Even today there is a massive gender imbalance in motorsport and W Series is making the first step to correct that. Drivers from all over the world have stepped forward, so it’s clear that with the right framework we can make the changes this sport desperately needs.”
Not only is W Series a free-to-enter competition, but a total prize fund of $1,500,000 has been assigned, with the overall series winner taking $500,000. W Series will also fund travel and subsistence costs, which opens the competition to drivers from all economic backgrounds across the world.
The hopeful drivers will now have just two months to prepare for the next step in the selection process – a three-day on-and-off-track trial including fitness tests and psychometric profiling, as well as multiple driving skill tests. Former F1 stars David Coulthard and Alex Wurz will be among the judges, alongside Dave Ryan, W Series Racing Director.
“We designed W Series specifically to shine a light on female talent right around the world,” said David Coulthard, who also chairs the W Series Advisory Board, “and I can’t wait to be part of the next stage and to see some of that talent in action.”
The final grid will be determined following a series of track tests in the W Series race car – a 2019 Tatuus T-318 – ahead of the season’s first race, at Hockenheim in Germany on May 3.
Six drivers, Alice Powell (UK), Shea Holbrook (USA), Naomi Schiff (B), Emma Kimilainen (Fin), Stephane Kox (NL) and Vicky Piria (I), have been chosen as ambassadors to represent all the W Series qualifiers and attend the glittering 2018 Autosport Awards event in London on Sunday December 2.
Full details of all qualifying drivers will be available at www.wseries.com from November 29th 2018.