WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) For many years women in motorsport existed mainly as grid girls or in the paddock, and a good deal of skepticism remains around women in the sport. However this weekend's "W Series" is set to change that!
The first-ever motorsport series for women makes its debut on Saturday in Germany, with the goal of showing that women can stand their ground in the sport and ideally making it into Formula One.
Eighteen drivers from 13 countries have been chosen for the inaugural W Series which comprises races at six venues starting at Hockenheim.
Drivers will comepte in Formula Three cars and the women will aim to demonstrate that they are not inferior to men in the fast and dangerous sport.
"Women can do it. It will take a lot, but women and men can race alongside each other competitively at the highest level," British favourite Jamie Chadwick told the Daily Telegraph last week.
"With motorsport, it's not about maximum power, maximum strength. It's not like in sprinting where the stronger you are, the quicker you'll be. It's more about precision. Sure, you need the endurance to withstand all the forces and strains upon your body."
For many years women in motorsport existed mainly as grid girls or in the paddock, and a good deal of scepticism remains around women in the sport.
The W Series is to change this image for good.
So far only one women has made the points in the 1,001 contested F1 races, Italy's Lella Lombardi at the abandoned 1975 Spanish Grand Prix in sixth place. Compatriot Maria Teresa de Filippis entered five races in the 1950s.
Others such as Susie Wolff, wife of Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff, have come close but failed to get to drive in F1.
"Sadly women haven't had those same opportunities so far. W Series is aiming to address that imbalance," said former F1 racer Alexander Wurz who oversaw the driver selection.
"If, as a result of the launch of W Series, more girls and young women are able to go motor racing, then more girls and young women will progress to the higher levels of motor racing. It's as simple as that."
Apart from Wurz, other notable F1 figures are engaged in the new series such as another ex-driver David Coulthard, star designer Adrian Newey and former McLaren official Dave Ryan.
Coulthard said motorsport's history has shown that many women didn't make it because they lacked funding and not many families believed they could achieve a professional career.
The winner of the W Series is to receive some almost 500,000 dollars from overall prize money of 1.5 million dollars but the exposure -- with broadcasters including Britain's Channel Four -- is as important as it could lure future sponsors to the series.
The 18 drivers were chosen in several tests from more than 50 women, with not only talent a factor but also technical understanding and presentation factoring in.
Chadwick has already shown her class by becoming the first women to win Britain's GT series and winning a British F3 race.
She is also among those who defends the series against criticism from the likes of IndyCar driver Pippa Mann and German Sophia Floersch that the W Series is a form of segregation and doesn't help the women's aim to compete against men.
Floersch named the series "the wrong way" but Chadwick insisted: "In the long term, we want to be racing against men at the top, but for now, W Series has given 18 girls an opportunity they wouldn't otherwise have had."