Explainer: What is the new, all-female W Series?

Women's only series slated to start in May 2019 will have free entry for 18-20 competitors who will be selected purely on merit after tests and appraisals

Amna Al Qubaisi became the first woman and Emirati to win the Senior class Rotax Max Challenge when she cruised to the title last season. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Racing
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The W Series new all-female racing series, launched on Wednesday, is aiming to help women racers get to Formula One. Organisers of the W Series hope to provide a platform for them to develop skills before taking on the men further up the motorsport ladder. No woman has competed in Formula One since 1976


The W Series to start in May 2019. Organisers said they aim to stage six 30-minute races at top circuits in Europe, most of which were past Formula One venues, with identical 1.8 litre Formula Three cars.

Who can take part?

Entry is free for 18-20 competitors who will be selected purely on merit after tests and appraisals.

Is there prize money?

Yes. There is a prize fund of $1.5 million (Dh5.5 million). The overall winner will collect $500,000, with prize money down to 18th place.

Who is on board?

David Coulthard, winner of 13 grands prix between 1995 and 2003, is on the advisory board along with Red Bull's technical head Adrian Newey. Former McLaren team manager Dave Ryan has been appointed racing director, while the chief executive is lawyer and corporate finance banker Catherine Bond Muir.

Anyone not a fan?

The idea of an all-female series has been controversial in the past, with top women racers adamant they want to compete against the men rather than be separated.

Spaniard Carmen Jorda caused a storm last year when she advocated a women-only series on the grounds that they had a physical disadvantage and could not compete equally with men at the top level.

Claire Williams, deputy principal of the Williams Formula One team, said this year that an all-female championship would be a "regressive step".

Does the UAE have any female drivers in motorsport?

Yes. Emirati sisters Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi have won various karting championships in the UAE. Amna, 18, was the first female and Emirati to win the Senior class Rotax Max Challenge and currently drives for Prema Racing in the Formula 4 championship.

Hamda, 15, is a rising UAE karting star and has been selected by the FIA as an ambassador for the Women in Motorsport Commission. She drives in the UAE RMC and X30 series, scoring three victories.


Read more:

New all-female W Series aims to get women to Formula One

Opinion: The Formula One is inspiring future generations to take up motorsports

Emirati driver Amna Al Qubaisi raring to go in Formula 4 after first test at Yas Marina Circuit

Emirati karting sisters explain why keeping fit is essential for success in the sport