Since its inception in 2019, W Series has established itself as the home of female empowerment in motorsport. With a three-year Sky Sports broadcast package under its belt, and the publicity that comes alongside supporting eight Formula 1 Grands Prix, the incoming season is expected to be bigger, and more competitive, than ever. Here is F1 Feeder Series’ season guide to the 2022 W Series championship.
By Aisha Sembhi
Gender diversity in motorsport is a topic that has become increasingly relevant amongst fan communities in recent years. One must only acknowledge the makeup of dominant athletes to identify the existing, and historical, gender disparity; only five women have competed in the top flight of the sport – Formula 1 – and its immediate feeder series’ do not feature any women at all.
W Series was made to change this. It is a female-only championship, established in 2019 with the intention of promoting gender diversity at the highest level of single-seater racing, and prompt discussions on how motorsport as a whole can become more inclusive of the women it has excluded for too long.
The championship intends to provide women with competitive track time and public exposure in an environment free from gender prejudice. It supports the Formula 1 World Championship, exposing a diverse concept to a vast spectator community.
2022 marks the series’ third season, and the drivers are hungrier than ever to prove themselves worthy of ascending the feeder series ladder.
W Series is unique to other feeder series, in that it’s entirely free to enter and drivers are not bound by the budgets and abilities of a constructor.
Whilst W Series follows a ‘teams’ format, drivers will be competing in identical cars – the Tatuus-Alfa Romeo F3 T-318. No ‘Constructors Champion’ is crowned, and teams exist purely for sponsorship and identification purposes.
Each weekend, the top ten classified finishers are awarded points in accordance with the FIA-standardised system: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1. Although the championship is free-to-enter, the prize is substantial – a total of $1million is awarded, with the champion receiving $500,000.
Teams and Drivers
The 2022 grid features nine teams and eighteen drivers – the top eight finishers from the 2021 season were guaranteed a place this season. The remaining ten spots were determined by two pre-season tests that occurred in Arizona, United States, and Barcelona, Spain, in early 2022.
Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing
New team name, same drivers – Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing consists of an all-British lineup, spearheaded by 2021 runner-up Alice Powell (#27). 2022 marks Powell’s third season in W Series – in conversation with F1FeederSeries, we learnt that she’s hungrier than ever for the top spot. Powell has established herself as a pioneer for women in motorsport; in 2010, she became the first woman to win a Formula Renault Championship and became the first woman to score GP3 points two years later.
Joining Powell is 27-year-old Jessica Hawkins (#21), who has made a name for herself both within and beyond competitive motorsport. She made her W Series debut in 2019, where she finished 11th overall, and she made her British Touring Car debut the following year. Hawkins is an ambassador to the Aston Martin F1 Team and big-screen stunt driver – her filmography includes the most recent James Bond installation, No Time To Die.
Another new team introduced to the W Series grid in 2022 is Community Owned Racing Team DAO, or CortDAO. This debuting team boasts two drivers who have been competing in the championship since its inaugural season. 2022 marks 24-year-old Fabienne Wohlwend’s (#5) third entrance to the championship, after finishing 6th in both 2019 and 2021. Prior to W Series, Wohlwend competed in the Ferrari Challenge Europe, finishing 2nd in the Pro-Am class in 2018, and 2nd in her second Pro class attempt in 2020.
Marta Garcia (#19) completes the CortDAO lineup. The 21-year-old Spaniard finished 4th in her debut W Series season and 12th in 2021. With the cancellation of the 2020 season due to Covid-19 restrictions came the subsequent introduction of an eSports championship – here, Garcia took 2nd place overall. Prior to competing in W Series, Garcia won the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy in 2015, as well as the Trofeo delle Industrie in the same year.
Defending champion Jamie Chadwick (#55) joins forces with Olympic medallist Caitlyn Jenner to compete in the newly established W Series team, Jenner Racing. Chadwick is, so far, W Series’ only champion, besting the grid in both 2019 and 2021 with Veloce Racing. Her 2019 performance captured the attention of Williams Racing, a Formula 1 constructor – she has since been a development driver for the team.
Chadwick is joined by 17-year-old American Chloe Chambers (#8), a world-record holder with an impressive karting record. Chambers was taken under the wing of motorsport legend, Al Unser Jr., during her post-karting debut in the United States F4 Championship – here, she finished 26th overall. Chambers also holds the record for the fastest vehicle slalom, in a collaboration with Porsche Cars North America.
Over at PUMA, Czech 19-year-old Tereza Babickova (#63) makes her W Series debut. Despite not having much single-seater experience, Babickova has established herself as a force to be reckoned with within the karting world – she was crowned senior champion at the 2021 Rotax Max Challenge, and was the only woman to make the final podium.
32-year-old Emma Kimilainen (#7) completes the Puma lineup with her third W Series appearance. The Finnish driver is no stranger to tackling the fierce competition the championship has to offer, finishing 5th in 2019 and 3rd in 2021. Prior to competing in W Series, Kimilainen participated in three consecutive seasons of the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship with PWR Racing Team, where her best finish was 7th.
Quantfury is another new team making its debut in 2022, featuring an all-Spanish line-up. Nerea Marti (#32) makes a W Series return after a fourth-place overall finish in 2021, scoring points in every race. Prior to this, Marti competed in Spanish F4 during the 2019 season, achieving one podium and finishing the season in 16th overall.
Racing alongside Marti is Belen Garcia (#22), another W Series returnee. Last season, Garcia finished 10th, whilst also pursuing a Formula Regional European Championship campaign with G4 Racing in the same year. Like her teammate, Garcia also competed in the 2019 Spanish F4 season, finishing one place above Marti in 15th overall.
Alpine affiliate and W Series returnee Abbi Pulling (#49) will make her Racing X debut in 2022. Last season, she finished in 7th overall, whilst also participating in her second season of British Formula 4. Whilst she is yet to win a championship, Pulling has established herself as a role model for girls in motorsport. Prior to the 2022 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Pulling became one of the first women to drive a Formula 1 car in Saudi Arabia, alongside Aseel Al-Hamad.
Brazilian Bruna Tomaselli (#97) completes the Racing X lineup. Tomaselli has competed at Formula 4 level since 2015, achieving five podiums at Formula 4 Sudamericana and three wins at Imperio Endurance Brasil. During the 2021 W Series championship, she partnered eventual champion Jamie Chadwick at Veloce racing, finishing the season in 15th overall.
This year, Scuderia W boasts a British lineup that oozes experience. 28-year-old Sarah Moore (#26) returns to the team for a second year. Moore got her first taste of motorsport victory in 2009, after winning the Ginetta Junior Championship. She has competed in every season of W Series, finishing 8th in 2019 and 5th in 2021.
Despite obtaining a nasty back injury in during the 2021 W Series round at the Circuit of the Americas, Abbie Eaton (#44) is fully recovered and back for more action this season. The 30-year-old driver has a wealth of experience, including a GT Cup Championship obtained only last year. Eaton will also be familiar to fans of The Grand Tour, where she stars as a test driver.
2019 runner-up Beitske Visser (#95) makes her third return to W Series. In the year prior to this, Visser was a Formula E test and reserve driver for Andretti Autosport. As the 2020 season was cancelled in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Visser competed in the 10-event eSport iRacing W Series championship, in which she won the title with one race to spare.
Completing the all-Dutch lineup is 19-year-old Emely de Heus (#4), who made her single-seater debut only last year. She holds a Dutch Winter Karting championship, as well as being the women’s cup winner in last season’s hotly contested Spanish Formula 4 championship.
W Series Academy
Lastly, the W Series Academy team is made up of two promising young drivers, who are guaranteed a W Series drive for two years. At only 16-years-old, Bianca Bustamante (#91) is no stranger to high-stakes motorsport. She has been named Philippines’ Driver of the Year in the karting category three times, and has amassed a portfolio of Asian Karting championships. She was the only Asian driver selected for the pre-season W Series test in Barcelona, and will be making her debut in 2022.
Bustamante is joined by Juju Noda, (#10), the only driver to receive a ‘free pass’ this season (i.e., a recipient of a W Series seat not by virtue of previous entrance or performance at the first pre-season test in Arizona). Despite this, Noda, the daughter of former Formula 1 driver Hideki Noda, is well-versed in motorsport. She competed in the 2020 Danish F4 Championship at the age of 14, scoring three podium finishes and one further race win.
Filipino racer Bianca Bustamante recently made her open-wheel début when competing in the opening rounds of the 2022 USF Juniors series | Credit: Bianca Bustamante
W Series Calendar
2022 marks the first time W Series features double-header rounds – they will take place at the season’s opening and closing venues (Miami and Mexico).
As a Formula 1 supporting series, the grid will follow the more senior championship to eight different locations all over the globe. The season kicks off at the Miami International Autodrome on May 7, 2022 for the championship’s second-ever doubleheader.
Rounds three and four will take place in Spain and the United Kingdom respectively, before the grid jets off to Paul Ricard in support of the French Grand Prix.
The Hungaroring and Suzuka will feature in the sixth and seventh rounds, before the grid returns to the United States to race at the world-famous Circuit of the Americas for round eight.
The season will round off with its second doubleheader, this time in Mexico.
Round 1: Miami International Autodrome, United States, May 7
Round 2: Miami International Autodrome, United States, May 8
Round 3: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain, May 21
Round 4: Silverstone Circuit, United Kingdom, July 3
Round 5: Circuit Paul Ricard, France, July 24
Round 6: Hungaroring, Hungary, July 31
Round 7: Suzuka International Racing Course, Japan, October 9
Round 8: Circuit of the Americas, United States, October 23
Round 9: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico, October 29
Round 10: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico, October 30
The W Series calendar supports the Formula 1 World Championship, and its ten races will be broadcast across eight Grand Prix weekends.
Practice sessions, qualifying, and races will be available to watch via Sky Sports, as part of a new three-year contract with the broacaster. Practice sessions will also be aired on the official W Series YouTube page.
Channel 4 will continue its free-to-air coverage of race highlights, as well as providing a live broadcast of Round 4 at Silverstone Circuit.
A new partnership with ESPN was also announced, shortly before the Miami weekend – live coverage of all qualifying and race sessions will be available across ESPN’s portfolio channels, including ESPN2, ESPN3, EPSNU and ESPNEWS.
A full list of global broadcasters can be found here.
Header photo credit: W Series
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