We caught up with ex-Formula 1 driver and double Le Mans 24 Hours winner Alex Wurz, who will be overseeing the W Series driver selection programme at Melk, Austria.
Describe the W Series driver selection process that will be taking place at the Wachauring, Melk, Austria, in a few days’ time.
“All the W Series qualifiers – in other words the 50-60 drivers whose applications were accepted to enter the selection process for the first ever W Series season – will assemble at the Wachauring, Melk, for three days of intensive appraisal. The programme will be run on behalf of W Series by Test and Training International, the company that my father Franz and I founded and still run, and it’s basically the same programme that we inaugurated for the FIA Institute some years ago, when it was running its Young Driver Excellence Academy [2011-2015]. A lot of top-class drivers went through that programme – guys like Stoffel Vandoorne and Alexander Rossi for example. My dad used to be a successful rally and rallycross driver, which adds a valuable counterpoint to my own extensive experience in circuit racing, principally in Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship.”
But what will the W Series driver selection process actually entail?
“It’s a comprehensive programme, and I won’t go into all the details now, but it’s a very tough series of tests involving all aspects of a racing driver’s skill-set – not only the driving itself but also physical fitness, mental aptitude, psychological and psychometric testing, communications/media/PR skills and so on. And it works. I’ll be one of the judges, but so will David Coulthard, who’s one of the Directors of W Series, and also Lyn St James, who’s a successful retired female racing driver from the States who started seven Indy 500s in the ’90s. It’ll be a private event – not open to fans or journalists I’m sorry to say – because it’ll be a crucial and challenging test for all the W Series qualifiers, whatever they’ve raced in the past, and they must be able to focus on the tasks they’ll be given without distraction of any kind.”
Why did you decide to get involved with W Series?
“It’s the declared ambition of W Series to help the promotion of women in motorsport, and I totally support that effort. I firmly believe that, given the same opportunities, women can race on an equal basis against men, but sadly women haven’t had those same opportunities so far. W Series is aiming to address that imbalance.
“If, as a result of the launch of W Series, more girls and young women are able to go motor racing, then more girls and young women will progress to the higher levels of motor racing. It’s as simple as that. The fact that we’ve never had that many female racing drivers is merely a reflection of the fact that so few parents encourage their daughters to go karting whereas so many of them encourage their sons to do so. And if W Series’ drivers begin to generate a following, particularly among young girls, and those young girls then develop an interest in motor racing, then that current gender imbalance may gradually shift towards greater equality. I’d be very happy if Test and Training International could play its part in helping bring about that important change.
“And, last but not least, I want to help make sure that the best, most promising and most deserving drivers are chosen to race in W Series this year, so that W Series has the very best chance it can possibly have of developing its winners and champions into successful professional high-level racing drivers who’ll go on to compete and win against male rivals, utilising the lessons they learned while racing for W Series.”
For full details on all W Series qualifiers, visit our qualifier page.
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