W Series unveils initial 55-driver list

The all-female W Series has released a list of 55 contenders for a spot on the 18-driver grid for its inaugural campaign next year.

W Series unveils initial 55-driver list

The championship, backed by the likes of former grand prix winner David Coulthard and esteemed F1 tech chief Adrian Newey, was announced in October with a $1.5 million prize fund and no budget requirements from prospective participants.

It is set to be held over six rounds in 2019 and use F3-specification Tatuus T-318 machinery.

The organisers say they have been contacted by “more than 100 applicants from 30 countries around the world”, from which the current 'longlist' was selected.

“We are thrilled but perhaps not surprised by the response,” series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said.

“Even today there is a massive gender imbalance in motorsport and W Series is making the first step to correct that.

“Drivers from all over the world have stepped forward, so it's clear that with the right framework we can make the changes this sport desperately needs.”

BMW-backed former Red Bull junior Beitske Visser, ex-Renault Sport Academy driver Marta Garcia, former Lotus F1 tester Carmen Jorda and British GT class champion Jamie Chadwick are among the highest-profile names in the initial roster, which includes racers from a wide array of categories.

Alongside Jorda are fellow former GP3 full-timers Vicky Piria, Samin Gomez and Alice Powell, the latter a champion in Formula Renault UK and Asia categories, while a number of sportswomen with entry-level open-wheel experience from various F4 categories have also applied.

Alice Powell

Alice Powell

Photo by: GP3 Series Media Service

The USA racing scene is represented by several names from the Road to Indy - among them former F1600 champion Ayla Agren - but also competitors from other forms of circuit motorsport, most notably 21-year-old Natalie Decker, who made headlines by taking pole for the ARCA opener at the Daytona oval earlier this year.

Former single-seater and STCC driver Emma Kimilainen and Lamborghini Super Trofeo racer Shea Holbrook are some of the more experienced drivers in the list.

Also featuring is Sarah Moore, who won the BTCC-supporting Ginetta Junior series all the way back in 2009.

This list is to be whittled down to a final grid of 18 after “a three-day on-and-off-track trial” and a subsequent series of track tests with the W Series car.

The selection panel will include Coulthard, series racing director Dave Ryan and former F1 driver Alex Wurz.

Powell, Piria, Holbrook, Kimilainen, Naomi Schiff and Stephane Kox will represent the series in ambassadorial roles during this weekend's Autosport Awards in London.

Full list

Driver Age Background
Norway Ayla Agren 25 Road to Indy, F1600 (champion)
United Arab Emirates Amna Al Qubaisi 18 Italian F4
Australia Chelsea Angelo 22 Supercars Development Series
Spain Carmen Boix Gil 22 NASCAR Whelen Euro
Belgium Sarah Bovy 29 Lamborghini Super Trofeo
United States Toni Breidinger 19 USAC Midget, ARCA
South Africa Ivana Cetinich 22 Kart racing
United Kingdom Jamie Chadwick 20 British F3, British GT (GT4 champion)
Czech Republic Veronika Cicha 31 Boss GP
United States Sabre Cook 24 Road to Indy, US F4
United States Courtney Crone 17 Formula Car Challenge
United States Natalie Decker 21 ARCA
India Mira Erda 18 JK Tyre Championship
Italy Carlotta Fedeli 26 TCR
United States Cassie Gannis 27 NASCAR K&N
Spain Marta Garcia 18 Spanish F4
Denmark Michelle Gatting 24 Danish Supertourisme
Germany Angelique Germann 27 Austrian F3
Canada Megan Gilkes 17 F1200 Canada
Venezuela Samin Gomez 26 GP3
China Grace Gui 27 Asian Formula Renault
Germany Michelle Halder 19 TCR Germany
United Kingdom Esmee Hawkey 20 Porsche Carrera Cup GB
United Kingdom Jessica Hawkins 23 Mini Challenge
United States Shea Holbrook 28 Lamborghini Super Trofeo
Spain Carmen Jorda 30 GP3
Hungary Vivien Keszthelyi 17 Audi SS R8 Cup
Finland Emma Kimilainen 29 STCC
Poland Natalia Kowalska 28 Formula Two
Netherlands Stephane Kox 24 GT4 European
Japan Miki Koyama 21 Japanese F4
South Africa Fabienne Lanz 32 Kart racing
Finland Milla Makela 25 Finnish Formula Ford
Romania Alexandra Marinescu 18 British F4
Netherlands Milou Mets 28 LMV8 Oval Series
United States Sheena Monk 29 Lamborghini Super Trofeo
United Kingdom Sarah Moore 25 LMP3, Ginetta Junior (champion)
Germany Marylin Niederhauser 22 GT4 European
South Africa Tasmin Pepper 28 VW Engen Polo Cup
Italy Vicky Piria 25 GP3, European F3 Open
Canada Taegen Poles 20 Kart racing
United Kingdom Alice Powell 25 GP3, Formula Renault UK (champion)
Australia Charlotte Poynting 20 Aussie Racing Cars
Belgium Naomi Schiff 24 Formula Renault 2.0, GT4 European
Germany Carrie Schreiner 20 Lamborghini Super Trofeo (Middle East Pro-Am champion)
Switzerland Sharon Scolari 23 Formula Renault 2.0
Germany Doreen Seidel 33 VW Scirocco, GT4 European
Malaysia Siti Shahkirah 24 F4 SEA
India Sneha Sharma 28 JK Tyre Championship
Brazil Bruna Tomaselli 21 Road to Indy
Netherlands Shirley van der Lof 32 German F3
Netherlands Beitske Visser 23 Formula Renault 3.5, GT4 European
Liechtenstein Fabienne Wohlwend 21 Ferrari Europe
Australia Caitlin Wood 21 Blancpain GT
United States Hanna Zellers 21 US F4, IMSA Prototype Challenge
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