- Credit: W Series

Since the announcement of the new all-female racing programme, the W Series has been causing a bit of a stir. To get to grips with the concept, I've pieced together a guide to get you acquainted with one of motorsport's most new and exciting adventures.

What is it?

The W Series will see 18-20 female racers battle it out for prize money and the accolade of champion. They'll take to a number of different European race tracks, supporting the DTM calendar from Germany to Brands Hatch, to find out who will be crowned the best W Series racer of 2019.

At the moment, a list of some 60 racers has been compiled. These drivers will head to Austria in under two week's time to see if they have what it takes to race in the inaugural season of the W Series. The selection process will be overseen by ex-Formula 1 driver and previous Le Mans winner Alex Wurz. The process in Austria is promised to be "extensive" - so expect fierce competition. The women will be assessed in a number of areas, ranging from media skills to outright speed tests.

A headline image from W Series

A headline image from W Series

How will they choose the finalists?

At the end of this month, the women will be put through their paces in Austria. They'll be judged on a number of elements, including fitness trials and their driving on the track.

"W Series will provide identical cars for 18-20 drivers in season one (2019), all of whom will have entered and passed a rigorous pre-selection programme/examination involving on-track testing, simulator appraisal, technical engineering tests, fitness trials etc. The successful applicants will then be given a thorough training programme centring on driving techniques, simulator exposure, technical engineering approaches, fitness, media skills etc." – W Series.

What's the prize?

Millions of dollars are being invested in this new avenue with the aim of giving some of the most talented females racers the chance to shine and develop.

The winner of the championship will receive a share of the total $1.5 million (US) prize money. This will equate to them receiving $550,000.

The drivers from the runner-up to 18th-placed will also be given a portion of the total prize money available, giving them a platform to progress onto the next step of their career.

What's the cost?

There's no cost involved in competing in the series. This is different from many forms of motorsport where the drivers have to pay to race. This is why there have been a number of qualifiers and selection processes to choose the top drivers overall.

Who's backing it?

"All of it carried out by a group of experts with decades of Formula 1 experience, meticulously recruited for the purpose: David Coulthard (multiple Grand Prix winner); Adrian Newey (the most successful Chief Design Engineer in modern Formula 1 history); Dave Ryan (40 years’ Formula 1 experience in team management with the McLaren and Manor Formula 1 teams, as well having run his own GT racing team Von Ryan); Matt Bishop (15 years’ experience as a journalist and editor in Formula 1, followed by 10 years’ experience heading up McLaren’s communications, content, media and PR operation in Formula 1)." – W Series

There are many familiar names supporting the series. Ex-F1 driver David Coulthard is playing a prominent role, and Matt Bishop - a leading name in motorsport communications - will be an integral part of this new creation.

PR guru Ann Bradshaw has joined the communications team

PR guru Ann Bradshaw has joined the communications team

It was recently announced that Hitech GP was appointed to be operating the series. They have extensive experience with the F3 cars, with success and titles in F3 championships. In 2018, Hitech GP finished third in the constructor's race of the 2018 FIA F3 European Championship.

The Silverstone-based team will supply the W Series with a number of elements including race cars, pit crews, trackside technology, and race engines.

Are there any familiar names?

In a later post, I will explore the qualifiers heading to Austria. Although, to highlight a few, there are many recognisable names in the list of semi-finalists, including Jamie Chadwick, Amna Al Qubaisi, Alice Powell and Carrie Schreiner.

British racer Alice Powell is one of the semi-finalists

British racer Alice Powell is one of the semi-finalists

With 60 names on the long-list, there are drivers from around the globe hoping for a spot in the final line-up. Women from Australia, Germany, India and Malaysia are all in with a shot of making the starting grid.

What cars will they drive?

The machines they'll be competing in will be identical Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 cars. They'll be powered by Autotecnica Motori inline four-cylinder 1.8-litre turbocharged engines. In addition, they'll be fitted with Sadev six-speed sequential gearboxes. In-line with new safety regulations, they'll be fitted with the HALO device too.

When will racing begin?

The racing will commence on the weekend of 3rd-5th May, at the famous Hockenheim (Germany) circuit.

But, for now, their mission to find their 2019 line-up is well underway.

I have decided to extensively cover the W Series in 2019, so please keep following my page for interviews, breaking news and race reports.

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