American racer Sabre’ Cook and the women of the W Series will get a chance to shine on a bigger racing stage in 2021.
The W Series has announced a partnership with Formula 1 that will include the open-wheel series for women serving as a support series on eight to-be-determined race weeks in 2021. The European-based series features Tatuus F3 T-318 single-seat open-wheel cars homologated to FIA F3 specs.
The series did not race in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Two Americans raced in the series in 2019—Cook and Shea Holbrook. Cook qualified for the series for 2020 based on her 12-place finish in the 2019 championship. Holbrook finished 18th in the championship. Cook competed in the Indy Pro 2000 Series in 2020.
Cook, a 26-year-old racer from Grand Junction, Colo, with a degree in mechanical engineering, is excited about the opportunity to be part of Formula 1 weekends in 2021.
“W Series pairing with F1 it’s is absolutely fantastic news,” Cook told Autoweek. “I simply cannot wait to race on the same circuits as the greats in F1. It will definitely bring great exposure as well for women in motorsports, and I hope inspire more to get involved.”
Jamie Chadwick won the W Series championship in 2019, and it led to a spot for her in the Williams Driver Academy. She’s one of four drivers in the Williams feeder program, along with F2 drivers Dan Ticktum, Roy Nissany and Jack Aitken.
A woman making it to a Formula 1 grid, however, hasn’t happened in nearly half a century. Lella Lombardi started 12 races in the series from 1974-76. Susie Wolff made it all the way to a practice session with Williams in 2014. Tatiana Calderon is currently a development driver for Alfa Romeo’s F1 team.
Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton said that the W Series is a step in the right direction for women in racing.
“I think it’s great what they have already done, and I think it’s definitely very important that they’re here on the global scale,” Hamilton said. “When people talk about diversity, people often think that we’re talking about having more people of color. It’s not just that. It is having more women involved. At the moment, it is a male-dominated sport, and that does need to change
“I remember racing from karting all the way up and only seeing less than a handful of young girls coming through. I remember seeing and speaking to a couple of them just knowing how difficult it was.”
Hamilton said he appreciates the contributions that Wolff and others have made to advance women in the sport.
“I raced with Suzie, I think she was such a great talent, and I remember how tough it was for her being in what was perceived as a man’s sport, and it’s not,” Hamilton said. “The sport does need to do more and think that is a good step in the right direction. I think it needs to transcend all the way down to karting.
“I don’t know what karting is doing, but there needs to be more females, more girls in karting with more opportunities to move their way up to that class. There’s plenty of access for young boys and men to come through the karting ranks into single-seaters. They need to do more to make sure the young girls know that it is a possible career path. Hopefully, this is what the W Series is doing.”
Will you watch the W Series on an F1 weekend? Will a women from that series ever make it to an F1 grid? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. And if you haven’t signed up for comments yet, now’s a great time!
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