It was in October 2018 that the world of motor racing witnessed a monumental shift in the sport with the public launch of the all-female W Series. British racer Sarah Moore was there from the beginning.
Backed by former F1 driver David Coulthard and other prominent members from the motorsport community, the W Series sees twenty drivers from across the globe who, having been selected through a rigorous selection process, race at six European venues. Following practice and qualifying sessions, the race is run over a specific number of laps and a timed thirty minute period with one additional lap at the end.
Sporting family. Sarah Moore followed her dad and brothers into motor racing
For 2020, six new drivers (including 27 year old British driver Abbie Eaton) successfully came through race trials in Almeria, Spain to compete alongside the 12 drivers who automatically qualified from last season, by finishing inside the top 12.
The initial 2020 W Series race calendar sees races in St Petersburg Russia, Anderstorp Sweden, Monza Italy, Norisring Germany, Brands Hatch UK, and Assen, Netherlands.
A year on and Britain has emerged with strong representation in the W Series. Jamie Chadwick was crowned the inaugural W series champion, Alicia Powell finished third while Moore is the third Britain in the top ten with an eighth place finish. Coming from a competitive motorsport family, Moore’s journey to the W Series was almost fait accompli.
“I’ve been racing since I was about eight, although I actually started when I was four. For me it was a lot easier than most – my dad has actually got his own racing airfield back in Yorkshire so I was born straight into it. It’s in the blood for me. I’d say it was a lot easier than it was for most,” Moore said.
Driven. Jamie Chadwick won the inaugural W-Series
Being the only girl on the karting circuit would prove to be no barrier for Moore. Her dad Simon was once a racing driver as are her brothers David, Nigel and Edward.
“I had my first go-kart built for me especially because I was quite small when I was 4 years old and it just came from there. My dad used to race. My older brother Nigel he’s actually a Le-Mans racer. He’s done the Le Mans 24 hour three times and he’s on the cusp of being a professional driver now. To me, he’s my idol, he’s kind of what I aim for and what I follow,” said the 25-year-old
“Yeah, the first season, I exceeded my own expectations. Realistically I’m probably harder on myself like most racing drivers are, so I feel I could have done better. But I finished the championship in eighth place. I got some good qualifying results. The races didn’t always go to plan but I gained so much experience of what it’s like to drive a formula 3 car with the G-forces”
Demanding. Brands Hatch will again host W-Series race
Moore is determined to improve this season when the new W Series sees additional races added to the 2019 schedule. Initially, two races were held in Germany, with Belgium, Holland, Italy and the UK also hosting races.
“The plan for next season is to try and up the amount of races. They’re still on with confirming the calendar and get everything sorted so we’re not entirely sure where the races will be or exactly how many races we’ve got yet but we’re hoping to have a couple of more races in there next year,” said Moore.
Stamford Bridge hosted a packed W-series event last autumn, where 13 time F1 Grand Prix winner and W Series Advisory Board Chairman, Coulthard, addressed delegates, making an impassioned case for diversity within motorsport. He spoke of how talented his late sister was, but she never had the chance to compete. That won’t be the case for his niece admitted Coulthard, and the W Series could provide a timely avenue for her and other aspiring women racers.
Moore accepts that women drivers in the W Series have made a huge statement for diversity in motorsport, and that this will continue as youngsters see more women racing at a high level.
Women will soon race in F1 says Moore
“It’s had a massive effect on the younger generation , which is one of our aims,” noted Moore.
“As one of the very few females who started off in karting, I was the only girl racing on the grid, so to look at the younger generation now and for them to have someone to look up to is absolutely fantastic.
“I mean the amount of girl racers who came out to Brands Hatch to support us, really opened our eyes to just how much of an impact this championship has had.”
Off the track too, the W Series has met with huge interest and that is very encouraging, agrees marketing director Nic Fletcher who explained the W Series pathway for talented drivers.
“We not only give them an opportunity to race, we train them. The racing is free, we offer prize money, some incredible exposure and training on track and off track from everything from engineering to media, health and fitness, nutrition, strength and conditioning and all that as well. So, they’re really getting a full holistic package of support which is unbelievable for young racers coming through,” Fletcher said.
David Coulthard backs W-Series
Fletcher beamed as he reflected on the inaugural W Series season.
“We’ve just completed out first season and we’ve seen extraordinary attention. We’ve been live on Channel 4 in this country. We’ve been in 320 million households globally. So, we’ve had incredible reach and an unbelievable about of attention from the world’s media as well,” said Fletcher.
“So we’re quite astounded really. Well not much astounded, but we’re absolutely delighted that we’ve exceeded all expectations in our first season.
“It’s been six races, starting in May and ending in Brands Hatch in August , and we’ve raced this season on the DTM platform which is a German touring car platform. We’ve really captured the imagination I think, of the world, so I think at the last count we reached almost 5 billion people globally with our media reach,” he said.
Moore herself is tipped for great things and is an emerging force in motor sport. She believes that the time when women will once again race in F1 might not be too far away.
Demanding F3 cars challenge W-Series drivers
“I like to think that in the next few years, there will be a woman in Formula 1, definitely think we’re on the way there. The W series has been fantastic to try and help with that. We had Jamie Chadwick who won this championship this year who’s been signed with Williams, and you have Tatiana Calderon (the Colombian is the F1 test driver for Alfa Romeo) as well. So, I think we’re on our way there. It’ll probably take a few more years yet, but it’s definitely in the pipeline.”