The 2022 W Series season has come to an early finish with sponsorship woes affecting the last few rounds. ATRL’s Immy Cousins takes a look at the future of W Series.
It has come to light that W Series no longer has the funding to see out the 2022 Season. Despite having previously gathered sufficient funding, uncontrollable mitigating factors have meant the season has come to a close early to ensure its future in 2023.
Many may question why the series runs in such a precarious manner compared to other popular junior series; the answers to these questions lie in its humble beginnings. CEO Catherine Bond Muir set up W Series in 2018 in the same way any business person would create a startup company of their own by pitching the idea to a series of investors and hoping they would consider supporting the future of business through financial investments. Considering their series is still very much in its early years, supportive funding from investors is crucial to its growth and survival.
W Series reports that at the start of the season, enough funding was agreed upon to support the series in all that it does, including funding the seats of all the drivers. However, the current lack of funding for the seats became all too literal when drivers were seen carrying their actual seats to the track during the recent Singapore GP. The press release given alongside the announcement shared that financial agreements had not been upheld in the necessary timeframe and that due to the current global economic downturn, the best opportunity for the series would be to pause its journey. This information shows how precarious the state of the series really is and how crucial the funding is to support drivers that need it the most.
So what can be said for the future of W Series? It’s clear that the series has only grown since its birth, and this year it saw its highest viewing figures throughout the British GP weekend, peaking at just over 1 million viewers. Given this, it could be understood that they are in an excellent position to gain new financial support due to their recent successes.
Its main criticism has been its failure to complete its goal of getting a woman to Formula 1. As a result of the season being cut short, Jamie Chadwick has once again been crowned champion and is, therefore, still the only champion to date, and she is yet to progress beyond the series. The press release seemingly suggested that Chadwick had news on the progression of her career that would be released in due course. If progress can be seen in Jamie’s career, this could create a better incentive for investors to come forward, as it’ll be evidence that the series has the potential to reach its goals.
“We have been and always will be incredibly proud and supportive of her career and wish her well in her next exciting chapter.”
Bond Muir reported in the release that whilst they are in no position to announce the security of W Series’ future, plenty of positive conversations are happening in light of the current situation. For drivers to rely on the series, there needs to be an idea of hope that they will be fully supported for the season and provided with the necessary career opportunities to head in the same direction as their male counterparts.
If there is indeed the positive support that Bond Muir believes there to be, then there are only bright times ahead for the series. Increasing numbers of young female drivers are looking to the series as the next step in their careers, and the battle for seats is tough. Alongside this, the series’ fanbase continues to grow, with the heartbreak of the 2022 season ending early seen across social media. Whilst the future of the series is yet to be certain, if the passion shared both online and across paddocks is anything to go by, there is no doubt Catherine and her partners will do everything in their power to continue the series into its next season.
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