Bond Muir: W Series has “come back stronger” with new team structure

W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir says the introduction of a team competition and an influx of sponsors shows the series has “come back stronger” after almost two years away.

Bond Muir: W Series has “come back stronger” with new team structure

In 2020 the championship was gearing up for its much-anticipated second season when the world ground to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of embarking on a reduced or rescheduled calendar as Formula 1 and other support series did, the series switched to an Esports League, keeping drivers and fans engaged.

But this weekend, almost two years since the thrilling Brands Hatch season finale at which Jamie Chadwick was crowned its inaugural champion, W Series is back, supporting F1’s Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

This time, the 18 drivers will be split into teams. Six take their names from title sponsors, while three will run under the W Series name, including an academy team for two of the youngest talents, Irina Sidorkova and Nerea Marti, who will be the only drivers guaranteed a seat next year.

The teams will also come with new liveries and an unofficial teams championship, which will continue into 2022 and beyond if successful, although the series remains a single-constructor championship.

CEO Bond Muir says the teams idea was “always certainly in our plans for the future”, but believes the series’ successful debut year was to thank for the speed at which it happened.

“I think it probably accelerated more quickly than we ever thought it was going to, because it became apparent that the people who wanted to become involved commercially with W Series actually wanted to have a deeper and closer relationship,” she said.

“People just didn't want to have, you know, stickers on cars, they wanted to have ‘a piece of the action’. Everyone, all of these new partners, believe 100% in the mission of W Series. They want to see women promoted within motorsport, and in all aspects of motorsport. But also the empowerment of women generally in sport, and what’s really interesting is that we've got people from all over the world - we've got two Asian teams, we've got two American teams.

“And for me, what is fantastic about this, is that they are going to be able to help us to grow internationally. Because certainly what I spent a lot of time doing in 2019 was talking about what is W Series and why is W Series. And what I really wanted to do for last year, and certainly this year, is to talk much more about the drivers, and I think the teams are going to be able to do that a lot more.”

 2021 liveries line-up

2021 liveries line-up

Photo by: W Series

The team sponsors are a mix of groups of people, individuals, businesses and traditional sponsors, with renowned racing team Veloce also taking a team.

Drivers were split into two groups – the top nine from last season in one and the rest of the grid in another – before teams chose their line-up on a first come, first serve basis.

Although two of the teams are currently being run by W Series, Bond Muir is confident that they will also have title sponsors next year, with conversations continuing with potential investors.

Bond Muir says as CEO, the most important thing for her, apart from producing the series, is the financial stability of the business going forward. But she says this announcement demonstrates that “we really have got a financial underpinning of the business, so finally, we can plan long term growth”.

She also highlighted how W Series had “bucked the trend of lots of other female sports, where they have been disproportionately affected by COVID. And, you know, there have been huge numbers of stories across the world about women's sport has been put back several years. So, we obviously had a poor second year, but what was demonstrated is that we've come back and we've come back stronger.”

And that it has, with a new six-part documentary series W Series: Driven piquing interest ahead of the season opener, as well as an all-new Channel 4 commentary team, continuing their free-to-air partnership.

Looking ahead, Bond Muir believes the new structure will give “another layer of storytelling” and said there are “so many unknowns in it”.

With line-ups including Chadwick and Brazilian rookie Bruna Tomaselli (Veloce Racing), returning competitors Alice Powell and Jess Hawkins (Racing X) and last year’s runner-up Beitske Visser and Norwegian rookie Ayla Agren (M. Forbes Motorsport), the addition of teams is sure to inject even more competition to a crowded field of talent.

As Bond Muir said: “New drivers, new liveries, new sponsors, new teams, with F1 - what's there not to love?”

shares
comments

Related video

Why W Series' champion is taking nothing for granted ahead of its return

Previous article

Why W Series' champion is taking nothing for granted ahead of its return

Next article

Autosport Podcast: W Series 2021 preview with Chadwick and Coulthard

Autosport Podcast: W Series 2021 preview with Chadwick and Coulthard
Load comments
The comeback trail Brit making the most of a second chance Plus

The comeback trail Brit making the most of a second chance

After four years of making only irregular race appearances, Alice Powell had good reason to believe that her dreams of becoming a professional driver were over. But W Series has provided a second chance that she has firmly grasped, Powell's popular home win at Silverstone prompting the new series leader to look ahead to a bright future

W Series
Jul 30, 2021
Why W Series' champion is taking nothing for granted ahead of its return Plus

Why W Series' champion is taking nothing for granted ahead of its return

W Series is back this weekend after a year away. This time it’s supporting F1, and reigning champion Jamie Chadwick is up for the challenge of taking another title - but knows with higher stakes will come even more motivated opposition

W Series
Jun 24, 2021
Why a sabbatical doesn't spell disaster for W Series Plus

Why a sabbatical doesn't spell disaster for W Series

W Series finally got off the ground in 2019 despite its critics and had expected to build on its momentum this season. Instead the COVID-19 crisis has put its plans on hold, but for the fledgling series it could prove a blessing in disguise

W Series
Jul 27, 2020
How Eaton's Grand Tour has led to single-seaters Plus

How Eaton's Grand Tour has led to single-seaters

Having triumphed in club motorsport, and landed a prominent TV driving role, Abbie Eaton has struggled with that problem so many aspiring drivers face: raising a budget. Now her career has taken a new direction after joining the W Series grid

W Series
May 10, 2020
The one thing W Series needs in 2020 to continue its rise Plus

The one thing W Series needs in 2020 to continue its rise

The first season of W Series can be considered a major motorsport success story, but at the same time certain elements of its philosophy were exposed as problems. For its second season, there's one issue in particular it needs to address

W Series
Jan 15, 2020
How Chadwick became motorsport's face of change Plus

How Chadwick became motorsport's face of change

From falling into motorsport "by accident" to becoming the first W Series champion, Jamie Chadwick's career success has shown motorsport's capacity for change and suggests the wait for another woman to race in Formula 1 could soon be over

W Series
Aug 22, 2019
What W Series must look like in 2020 Plus

What W Series must look like in 2020

While the first season of W Series can be regarded as successful, it must now capitalise on its strong debut and make the most of its opportunity to cement a long term future. Here are the steps it should take for 2020

W Series
Aug 19, 2019
The next mountain W Series must climb Plus

The next mountain W Series must climb

Through a controversial concept launch, one of its drivers making it into a Formula 1 role and format experiments coming under the glare of TV lenses, the W Series has made a promising start. But the second year will be its biggest test yet

W Series
Aug 2, 2019