W Series confirms eight F1 support races for 2021, no Saudi Arabian round · RaceFans

W Series has confirmed its provisional schedule for next year. The all-women’s championship, which launched in 2019 but did not take place this year, will support eight rounds on the 2021 F1 calendar.

It will appear at six of F1’s European rounds and two North American events. The championship will conclude at the Mexican Grand Prix in October, but a race supporting the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is a notable omission from the schedule.

W Series cancelled its planned second season in 2020, which was to include two F1 support races, running a virtual championship instead. It recently announced it would support a larger roster of F1 races in 2021, prompting speculation the world championship’s new round in Saudi Arabia would be among them.

The country used its first Formula E race in 2018 to highlight recent advances made in its widely criticised treatment of women. Restrictions on women driving cars were relaxed the same year. Women racers tested Formula E cars following the event and raced in its former support series, the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy.

W Series and the Jeddah F1 promoters previously indicated interest in holding a race. RaceFans understands a deal did not come about entirely due to commercial reasons. Sources indicated the series had tabled an initial hosting fee of $14 million, which was subsequently reduced to $11m. That was also rejected.

Both parties are hopeful of agreeing terms for a 2022 support event, with a full diversity and educational programme forming part of the programme.

“The prospect of seeing W Series race alongside Formula 1, the world’s premier motor racing series, has become even more tantalising as a result of today’s announcement of our 2021 race calendar,” said W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir.

“The eight races will allow our fast and fearless female racing drivers to showcase their skills on some of the world’s most iconic racing circuits, in Europe and the Americas, and literally follow in the tyre tracks of the greatest racing drivers in the world today.”

F1 managing director Ross Brawn welcomed the inclusion of W Series on F1’s supporting programmes.

“There is a really exciting mix of circuits that will showcase the exceptional talent of the drivers in the series,” he said.

“We believe that it is incredibly important to give everyone the chance to reach the highest levels of our sport. Partnering with W Series shows our determination and commitment to building greater diversity across Formula 1.”

Provisional 2021 W Series calendar

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