The W Series, the international all-women motor racing championship which debuted in 2019, has extended its live free-to-air rights deal with UK commercial broadcaster Channel 4 to cover the 2021 campaign.

The original agreement between the W Series and Channel 4 only covered the inaugural season, and the 2020 campaign was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 season will comprise eight W Series races, all in support of Formula 1 rounds, which Channel 4 has highlights rights to.

With the original deal two years ago, Channel 4 became the first, and founding, broadcast partner of the W Series.

As in 2019, Channel 4 will show all the action live from the practices and qualifying sessions, and races, as well as build-up, analysis and paddock insights. 

The live coverage will be available across both Channel 4’s linear and digital platforms, and full highlights will be made available on demand through the All 4 catch-up service. 

Channel 4’s coverage of the 2021 W Series will start in advance of the series’ first race, in Austria on 26 June. 

Catherine Bond Muir, chief executive officer at the W Series, said: “Live free-to-air motorsport coverage is rare, and our partnership with Channel 4 is a key part of W Series' plan to create more visible role models to inspire girls and women.”

Louisa Compton, head of news, current affairs and sport at Channel 4, added: "W Series aligns brilliantly with Channel 4 – it's exciting, bold and breaking down barriers. I'm sure viewers will relish the opportunity to watch this exciting season of top motorsport as it unfolds.”

According to a report from December 2019, W Series was the second most-watched women’s sporting property in the UK that year, behind only English soccer’s Women’s Super League.

Last month, the series appointed Tom Gracey, formerly head of broadcast and international rights at English soccer’s Football Association, as its head of broadcast and media rights. 

The Pitch International agency was appointed as its global broadcast rights distributor two years ago. 

In the 2019 season, the series secured widespread international coverage, including on NENT in the Nordic region, Fox Sports in Asia, TVE in Spain, and ProSiebenSat.1 in Germany. 

Channel 4 is the first broadcaster the series has officially confirmed as returning for the 2021 campaign, with further deals to be announced in the coming month.