Ahead of W Series’ home race at Silverstone, on 1-2 July in support of the Formula 1® Lenovo British Grand Prix 2022 weekend, CEO Catherine Bond Muir analyses the season so far, and looks ahead to the rest of 2022 and beyond…
“If you’d told me when we launched W Series in 2018 how much we would achieve in less than four years, I wouldn’t have believed you.
“Covid threw us several challenges (including no on-track racing in our second year), but you learn to adapt. We’ve had some fantastic wins since we launched – really entertaining racing on-track, partnering with Formula 1, expanding our fanbase by over 100 per cent, and being viewed in more than 200 territories globally in 2021, to name just a few, and we’re only just getting started.
“It was fantastic to see the cars back on the grid last year after an enforced break away from on-track racing in 2020. Due to Covid restrictions, we couldn’t have the celebrations that we’d like to have had with guests, fans, and media at W Series HQ. But this season has a much more open feel, and we started with a bang in Miami.
“The USA is a huge commercial market for us. We’ve had a significant spike in interest since our first race outside of Europe and our American debut – the 2021 season-ending double-header in Austin, Texas, last October. The idea of a women’s motor racing series has really captured people’s imaginations in North America and, with our increased activity in the USA, and an American driver, Chloe Chambers, racing with us, we are making a statement that America is a very important market for W Series.
“The increased interest in us from fans and the media so far this season has been absolutely fantastic. We have a groundswell of support from fans who love us and what we’ve got to work hard at now is increasing the numbers. We really want to build on the US market which is a hard thing to do – F1 has done it, principally, through Drive to Survive, so we need to find our own way of building in the US. We also want to build ourselves as a brand that is known by people outside of motorsport. Non-motorsport fans know what F1 is, and we need to attract new fans to the sport.
“Every month that we progress, we get more commercial interest in W Series. Sophisticated sponsors want to know what they’re partnering with, so it’s difficult to get huge sponsors in at the early stages of any sporting series because you’ve got to provide them with data. So, the longer we’re here, the more data we can supply and the more we’re able to demonstrate growth in a whole variety of different markets. We’re able to do that now and, therefore, we’re having much more meaningful conversations with commercial partners.
“Silverstone will be our biggest race of the year, and probably our biggest-ever race since launch. We’re a British-based business, we have larger audiences in the UK than any other country, we’ve got six British drivers, and at the last race we had three Brits on the podium. If I was a betting person, I’d say the same three Brits will be on the podium at Silverstone but not necessarily in the same order.
“You want close competition because that creates interest and excitement. Jamie winning all three races so far means we’ve got one dominant racer, but that helps propel her to greater fame and that’s good for her and for us. Abbi and Alice are very competitive and very upset they haven’t won a race so far this season, so they are going to be putting Jamie under enormous pressure. What’s exciting about Silverstone is that there are many more overtaking opportunities than there were in Barcelona, so I really look forward to an exciting race. It’s fantastic that the race is live on both Sky Sports and Channel 4 in the UK, and we’re hoping that presence gives us our largest TV audience to date for a single race.
“Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the circuit I’m most looking forward to visiting has to be Mexico. We’ve tried to get to Mexico twice (in 2020 and 2021) without success, so I really hope we will get there this year. I’ve said on several occasions that I can’t wait to see our cars going through the baseball stadium section with the incredible atmosphere from the fans. It’s an iconic spot in motorsport for any series and seeing the W Series drivers there will be magical. Our double-header there will be a perfect end to the season.
“Beyond that, we’re already putting deals in place for 2023. Next year, we would like to have a good geographical spread of drivers and races again, and I’m hopeful we’ll get at least two new races on the calendar, if not more. We have our feet on the ground but big ambitions, and I’m convinced the best is yet to come…”
British fans can watch the fourth race of the 2022 W Series season live from Silverstone on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports F1, Sky Showcase, and Channel 4 from 13.10 BST on Saturday 2 July, with qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Showcase at 18.10 BST on Friday 1 July.
For the full list of where to watch in your location visit our broadcast page here.