The final two races of this year’s W Series will be on the undercard of Formula One’s United States and Mexican Grands Prix.
The all-female motor racing championship has announced a new eight-race calendar for 2020 with the campaign to end in Austin and Mexico City on back-to-back weekends.
This is a significant step for the series, in which Britain’s Jamie Chadwick, development driver for the Williams Formula One team, will be the defending champion after winning last year’s inaugural title and the £400,000 prize pot.
It has been 44 years since a female driver, the Italian racer Lella Lombardi, last took part in a Formula One Grand Prix. The two races in the US and Mexico will take place on the Saturday, when qualifying is staged for the Formula One race.
“We are delighted to welcome W Series to two such spectacular events,” said F1’s sporting director, Ross Brawn. “In just one year, W Series has contributed significantly to increasing interest in the topic of diversity and inclusion in motorsport. We are convinced that our sport must offer equal opportunities for men and women to compete together.
“It is no coincidence that improving the diversity of the F1 grid by supporting and promoting driver talent from underrepresented backgrounds is one of our strategic objectives.
“The ability for the great crowds who traditionally attend the US and Mexican Grands Prix to see these talented female drivers up close will definitely further raise the awareness of the importance of inclusion and diversity in motorsport.”
The 2020 W Series will start with a new event in St Petersburg in May, while Brands Hatch, last year’s season-ending race will host the fifth round of the campaign.
The W Series chief executive, Catherine Bond Muir, who created the championship in the hope of creating a path for female drivers to race at the highest level, said: “We at W Series are absolutely delighted that, in only our second season, our championship has been welcomed by Formula One. I’m particularly pleased that W Series will now stage races outside Europe, and the USA and Mexico are of course both very important new territories for us.
“Interest in and enthusiasm for W Series was enormous in our first season, 2019, among media and fans alike, and the addition of two all-new W Series races on the Formula One platform will inevitably increase that enthusiasm and interest.
“A lot of work has gone into stitching the W Series-Formula One deal together, but above all I want to thank W Series’ drivers, the brave and talented young women who captured the imagination of the sporting world last summer. Mark my words: they’ll do so again this year, from May to October, all over the world.”