W Series falls victim to motor racing's scheduling chaos
The W Series, the international all-women motor racing championship which debuted last year, has cancelled its 2020 campaign altogether due to the scheduling chaos in the sport caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to cancel the series and not stage races until 2021, announced today, was taken “in consultation with Formula 1, the FIA (motorsport’s governing body), and W Series’ partners and suppliers”, according to a statement.
Catherine Bond Muir, the series’ chief executive and founder, said: “Delivering an international calendar of the kind that W Series requires, while prioritising the health and safety of our drivers and staff… requires resources at a level beyond the scope of a start-up.
"Our decision is not one that has been taken lightly."
She added: “We will now focus our energies on 2021, when we will resume our on-track programme, bigger and better than ever before.”
The second series of the championship was set to involve eight races, with two of these scheduled for the same weekend as Formula 1 races in Mexico and the US.
The season was originally meant to start on 30 May in St Petersburg, Russia, and end on 31 October in Mexico City, but it quickly became apparent after the initial onset of the virus that due to the postponement and cancellation of various Formula 1 races, and of races from DTM, the Germany-based touring car series, the 2020 W Series would face at least a substantial postponement.
The W Series is to a large degree dependent on those other series for its visibility and coverage.
Given that the W Series planned on supporting DTM during the first half of its 2020 season, when the German series said in late March that it would not start before mid July, the W Series faced the prospect of racing on a standalone basis, which would have created issues in terms of exposure and sponsorship.
The fact that Formula 1’s calendar is still not clear in terms of the potential US and Mexican races, originally slated for 24 and 31 October, respectively, will also likely have contributed to the decision to cancel the entire season.
Bond Muir said last month that if the dates of those grands prix ended up changing, her series would not necessarily be able to shift to whatever new dates were decided on.
In May, Bond Muir said the W Series had the financial capability to deal with the 2020 season being completely cancelled, saying: “It is absolutely robust enough…. We will be racing next year irrespective of what happens this year.”
The W Series and its rights partner, the UK-based Pitch International agency, secured around 60 broadcast deals for its inaugural 2019 season.