The W Series, the women only single-seater championship that we have some thoughts about, begins its inaugural season this weekend. Just a few days before the beginning of that inaugural season, the series announced just how its rules, events and six-race championship will work.
The series, which we first heard about two years ago, selected its final 18 drivers to compete in the opening season a couple of months ago. Those women will go to Germany twice, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK across six races between May and August, and the points leader at the end of it all will be the first W Series champion. (In a tie, the driver with the most wins gets the higher position—be it the title or otherwise. If that’s also a tie, it goes to most second-places finishes, and so on.)
All of those races will be run with spec Formula 3 race cars, which we’ve known. What we haven’t known is how exactly the races will work, until now—the series announced Wednesday each race will run a specific number of laps based on the number that would normally be run in 30 minutes at the track, plus one.
Points for where the drivers finish at the end of those laps will look familiar to Formula One fans: First gets 25, second gets 18, third gets 15, and so on. Tenth is the last finishing position to receive championship points, and gets one.
Those numbers only change in the case of a shortened race. If a race is called and the leader has made two laps or less, or if all of the laps are done under a safety car, there will be no points. The series will give half points if the leader’s made more than two laps but less than 75 percent of the original race distance, and full points if they make it past that point.
Actual race weekends, in addition to the roughly 30-minute races, will include two practice sessions and qualifying, and each driver has to run at least three laps in the car that will be raced in order to qualify.
The default for the W Series will be the usual staggered standing start, and no one can refuel or remove fuel from a car during a race or qualifying.
The W Series will give out awards for the first- through third-place finishers, and attending the awards ceremony is mandatory unless prior agreements are made. If results are revised later and a driver loses their award, though, they’re required to return it “in good condition” within a week.
The real catch with the W Series, though, is its limitations during its season. In a series that claims its goal is to help women advance in motorsports, it doesn’t allow drivers to run any track on its schedule from four weeks before the start of the season through that track’s W Series event. The only way around that is if a driver is competing for a title in a series that visits one of those tracks, but they can’t do a one-off race in another series just to get experience on a track.
The W Series, at least, mentioned official series tests in its rules.
For those interested in the racing, though, the W Series has spent the past week or so announcing television deals in areas like the UK, the Nordic region, the Netherlands, Oceania, Asia and Africa. There’s nothing set up for the U.S. as of now, though, according to driver Shea Holbrook.