London company bankrolling female tournament for 2019
PLANS have been drawn up to stage an historic women-only motor racing championship which could be launched in 2019.
In a proposal circulated earlier this year, the potentially groundbreaking series intends to see women drivers compete at six races — five of which will be staged in Europe and the other in the US — with the champion promised a Formula One test drive.
The London-based company behind the project are believed to carry the financial muscle required to get the landmark proposal off the ground and its ambitious organisers expect the championship to be second only to Formula One as the biggest international motor racing series within three years of its launch.
It is understood that the aim is to run a condensed summer-time calendar. The series has the support of Felix Porteiro, a former Spanish racing driver who competed against Lewis Hamilton in F1s feeder series GP2, and the leaked document also claims that a number of television companies have expressed an interest in broadcasting the series.
Motor racing remains the biggest sport which does not offer an alternative for women to compete in standalone events.
The proposal fits with Bernie Ecclestone’s desire for an all-women F1 championship. Back in 2015, then chief executive Ecclestone hoped a separate event for women racers would showcase their talents and ease the path to compete in Formula One.
British driver Susie Wolff was a development and reserve driver for Williams and took part in four grands prix practice sessions, but she retired when it became evident she would not be provided with a full-time race seat.
It has been more than 40 years since a woman driver entered a Formula One race when Italian Lella Lombardi took to the starting grid at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix.
Carmen Jorda, the Spaniard who was also an F1 development driver but never tested the car, is still a familiar face within the F1 paddock.
“I believe a womens F1 championship would give us the chance to achieve our dreams and compete on an equal footing as in other sports,” Jorda said. “One day it will happen and it is the right thing to do.
“They think because we are driving a car we are on the same level as men which is completely not true because we will never be the same as them.
“I have had to fight through many things to get to the top of this sport, just because I am a women, and that is not fair.”
A number of leading women drivers — racing in Britain, Europe and the US — have been approached by organisers about the series, but some are understood to be sceptical and believe a women-only championship may harm and undermine their position within the industry.
The proposed name SHE Championship was scrapped after would-be drivers were approached.
A spokesperson for the organisers said: “There will be no announcement for a number of months as we are undertaking a lot of research and completing our strategy.
“Starting something from scratch takes an enormous amount of time to get right.”