W Series Communications Director says the absence of female drivers at international level is “sad” and the controversial female only series is required to try to address this.
The series launches this year and will see 20 drivers compete for a total of $1.5m US Dollars.
Former McLaren Communications Chief Bishop, who leads the venture alongside 13-time F1 race-winner David Coulthard and former Williams driver Alexander Wurz, feels the top of motorsport needs to change.
“We feel it’s required because there has been a sad absence of women drivers at high levels of motorsport, particularly high levels of international motorsport. There is no good reason for that, F1 has been going for 68 years with almost 900 drivers, it has always been open to women but of those 900, only two have been women that have started races. It’s culturally broken in that sense.”
The venture has attracted praise from figures such as Carmen Jorda, but has also drawn criticism from other women in the motorsport world such as Katherine Legge. Bishop was not surprised at the mixed reaction, but is undeterred in the effort to bring in more females.
“We were (expecting a mixed reaction). Motorsport is almost the last, final male bastion. It’s a very male world, I’ve worked in Formula One for a quarter of a century and most of the women who are working in the sport are cooks and waitresses and that really isn’t right.”
Bishop hopes that females aren’t just drawn to the driving aspect of motorsports, and Frmula One itself has seen Claire Williams and Monisha Kaltenborn leading Williams and Sauber respectively.
“We hope that not only will we be able to drive more women into racing careers as racing drivers but also if people look behind just the racing, that behind every race car that you have ever seen in your life, there are dozens if not hundreds of mechanics, engineers, technicians, aerodynamicists and so on. Women including young women at school who could be studying in science and technology at school and mathematics, hopefully realise there are exciting jobs in motorsport that they had never considered and could have thought would only be for their brothers and men.”
W Series has been described by Bishop as “positively disruptive” in their efforts to change the motorsport landscape.
“If you are positively disruptive you are always going to make a few waves. We understand that not every female racing driver has to race in the W series , we only have room for 20 and we have had 60 who have applied to take part in the series. We are excited to whittle that down to 20 drivers to take part in the inaugural season this year and those who have gone a different route or aren’t selected by us, we wish them all the best.
“We’re all aiming for more women succeeding in motorsport and progressing to higher levels.The timing of the W series is absolutely right, if it had have been done a few years ago maybe the world would not have been ready for it, and a few years later someone would perhaps have beaten us to it. I think it’s right, the world is ready for it and more women are ready to go racing. ”
IMAGE Courtesy of @WSeriesRacing, Twitter.