Formula 1: W Series to support races at eight grands prix in 2021

Jamie Chadwick smiling after winning the inaugural W Series title
Jamie Chadwick clinched the inaugural W Series title at Brands Hatch in 2019

The W Series will link up from Formula 1 next season with eight support races at grand prix weekends in 2021.

The female-only series began in 2019 but the 2020 season was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The last two races of the season had been scheduled to feature on the F1 support-race bill at the United States and Mexican grands prix.

F1 this week published a 2021 calendar with a record 23 races, with those to feature the W Series to be confirmed.

"When we promised W Series would be bigger and better in the future, partnering with Formula 1 was always our ultimate objective," said founder and chief executive Catherine Bond Muir.

"There is no doubt that, now W Series will be run alongside and in collaboration with Formula 1, our global reach, impact and influence will be increased significantly."

The series was set up with the intention of raising the profile of motorsport among women with the ultimate ambition of helping a female driver into F1.

The last woman to race in F1 was Italian Lella Lombardi, who scored half a point with a sixth-place finish in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

Britain's Jamie Chadwick earned a place on the Williams F1 team as a development driver with impressive performances in the first two W Series races before winning the inaugural title.

The 22-year-old retained the Williams position for 2020 and has been competing in regional Formula 3 since August, having secured substantial backing to reach F1 in June.

Lewis Hamilton, who could win his seventh Formula 1 world title at the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday, believes the link up is crucial to improving diversity in the sport.

He said: "It's great what they have already done and it's very important they are here on the global scale.

"When we talk about diversity, people often think we're talking about having more people of colour. It is not just that. It is having more women involved. It is a male-dominated sport and that does need to change.

"I remember racing on the way up and seeing less than a handful of girls coming through. I spoke to a couple of them and knowing how difficult it was. I raced with Susie [Wolff], who was such a great talent and saw how tough it was for her in what was perceived as a man's sport.

"The sport does need to do more and that is a good step in the right direction but it needs to transcend all the way down to karting. There need to be more girls in karting with more opportunity to make their way ups to that class.

"They need to do more to make sure the young girls out there know it is a possible career path. And hopefully that's what W Series is going to do."

The inaugural season of the W series, which uses identical 1.8-litre Formula 3 cars, featured six rounds supporting the DTM German Touring Car Championship.

"It is a really important moment for us to welcome W Series as partners for eight races this season," said Ross Brawn, F1's managing director for motorsport. "They have been a beacon to many since they began racing in 2019.

"We believe it is incredibly important to give everyone the chance to reach the highest levels of our sport and the partnership with Formula 1 next season shows our determination and commitment to showcase their exciting series and the importance of building greater diversity."

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