Saturday marked the first of six races in the FIA’s women-only W Series of open wheel racers from the Hockenheimring sharing the weekend with DTM. The damp racing surface and a muddy hairpin resulted in some exciting crashes, dicey moves, and more passing than you’d see in a California HOV lane. The cars are a little on the slow side, but the racers are opportunistic and serious. Sadly, the series absolutely flubbed the launch.
Going into the weekend the W Series announced that the race would be broadcast live both on Facebook and Twitter, which is an awesome move for a new series that is attempting to reach a younger and non-motorsport-entrenched audience. More series need to provide easy access to fan viewing. The technology exists, and it should be used.
The broadcast rights had been purchased by some networks in certain markets, at which point the internet broadcast was geoblocked—which is a terrible move. Thankfully for our needs, there is no broadcast deal in the US and I was looking forward to watching live online. As were many others. For some reason, the geoblock was tacked on to the US as well, despite the fact that the series website assured otherwise.
Here are a few comments from the live stream on Facebook. And below is what the Twitter stream still looks like when I try to watch.
Luckily, after the race ended, the full stream of the race was made available on the Facebook page, and has been linked below for you to watch. It’s a short race, and it’s definitely worth watching.
Credit where due, this worked out to an actually interesting race, and I enjoyed every minute of it. And if the series can get this geoblock and live stream feature worked out, they’ll deserve applause for it. I like that there are no gimmicks here, no team orders, no DRS, no activation zones, just proper old school racing with lots of wheel to wheel action and lots of passing.
The race was good.
Jamie Chadwick got away from pole to an amazing start before a brief mistake on the first lap dropped her to second place. A safety car was deployed as Emma Kimalainen’s tires locked up on the wet line during an extremely late brake attempt, which sent her car headlong into Megan Gilkes, knocking both cars out. At the restart, Chadwick regained the lead of the race from Sarah Moore.
Marta Garcia and Alice Powell impressed with some charismatic moves through the field to finish third and second respectively, but it was Jamie Chadwick who had the run of the field all race. Despite that one misstep on the first lap, she recovered and ran away to the finish by 1.32 seconds at the checkers.
Here are my gripes, as of course there will be some with any new series:
1. The Tatuus T-318 Alfa Romeos are a bit slow. With just 270 horsepower, and effectively running to FIA Formula 3 specs, these ladies could probably stand to be a bit quicker. These cars were likely chosen for cost of entry, which is a valid concern, but more power and speed would add to the show.
2. The races are far too short at 30 minutes. Even if these races were 50 minutes as Formula E runs, or an hour, it would make for a more strategic race. As it stands, these racers don’t need to pit for fuel or tires, which takes some of the fun of racing out of it. Furthermore, the 10 minute safety car on the first lap completely wiped out about 1/3rd of the racing action.
3. That’s it. Just two.
In spite of the fact that the series is rooted in the institutionalized sexism of motorsport, these women are out to prove that they are worthy and this series will ultimately garner them eyeballs and sponsors that they might not have otherwise received. My hope is that the women who prove themselves best of this group will be given opportunities in other high profile series all over the world.