W Series: Rest of 2022 season cancelled with focus on securing investment for 2023 as Jamie Chadwick is crowned champion

W Series: Rest of 2022 season cancelled with focus on securing investment for 2023 as Jamie Chadwick is crowned champion

The all-female racing series, which features as part of the support package at select Formula 1 Grands Prix throughout the year, was seven races into a planned 10 of its third season, with the most recent round being in Singapore just over a week ago.

But with contracted funding from one investor - now no longer involved with the series as a result - failing to arrive as expected in mid-September, it left W Series organisers with no alternative but to scrap the upcoming race in Austin and the season-ending double-header in Mexico City to switch their sights to getting financial backing in place for next year.

The curtailment means championship leader Jamie Chadwick retains her title, with W Series regulation specifying a minimum of six races need to be completed in a season before a champion can be declared.

"We've had offers from a number of people, but the problem is getting money in doesn't happen at the shake of a money tree and people have got to go through due diligence," W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir, who remains highly optimistic about the prospects for 2023, said.

"We believed up until this weekend there was a possibility for us to get to Austin and we've just had to call it because there are deadlines on payments of things which need to be done.

"We could have kept it on for a couple of weeks, but we had to make a pragmatic call today. Going forward, I am extremely confident W Series will be here next year.

"Almost everyone has been supportive and said how much they like W Series, that it is important in motorsport and that everyone wants it to continue."

Bond Muir is grateful for the support the FIA, Formula 1 and various other partners have shown to the W Series during these difficulties, as well as thanking the drivers for their understanding after facing similar issues throughout their own careers.

The intention is for the W Series to continue covering all of the costs of the competitors in 2023 and beyond too, something Bond Muir believes is vital to ensure the best female racers come to the fore.

"They are drivers, in their blood all they want to do is race and they were incredibly upset, but at the same time as being incredibly upset they were understanding," Bond Muir said. "Really, the feeling that came out of it was 'this is rubbish, but it's what we've dealt with for 20 years'.

"They've had promises of money, they've had contractual commitments and they haven't come through, they've had lots of people saying they're going to support them, and it doesn't happen. It was more of a feeling of 'welcome to our world, we understand what you're doing'.

"As far as we're concerned at the moment, we want to keep the DNA of the W Series going and it is still our intention to be providing all of the expenses for the drivers."

Chadwick's confirmation as champion continues her dominance of the series since its inception in 2019, with the British racer now a three-time title-winner and finishing the year 50 points ahead of nearest challenger Beitske Visser, who won the last round in Singapore.

Bond Muir confirmed the intention is still to pay out full prizemoney to Chadwick and the other drivers eligible for it according to their championship standings, and congratulated her on another championship.

"I want to extend a huge congratulations to our triple-champion Jamie Chadwick," Bond Muir said. "She has dominated the 2022 W Series and this championship is well-deserved.

"We have been and always will be incredibly proud and supportive of her career and wish her well in her next exciting chapter.

"To all our W Series drivers, I'd like to express both pride and sincere gratitude for your professionalism and talent, providing entertaining and exciting racing all season long, and for your continually unwavering support as we navigate the next steps for our series.

"We will always work hard to provide women racing drivers the opportunities to achieve success and we will not stop fighting to continue the work W Series has started to support women in motorsport."

Three-time champion Chadwick admitted it was bitterly disappointing to not finish what has been a ground-breaking season for W Series but the Jenner Racing driver remains proud of her achievements in 2022.

"I really wanted to go to Austin and Mexico and finish the season on track, but it's the way things have happened. It's unfortunate, but it's fortunate things have fallen my way championship-wise," she said.

"It's one of those, down the line I won't even remember thinking about it like this, but at the same time you always want to have the best opportunity to win it on track. It's mixed emotions; I wasn't hoping to be sat at home then finding out I'd won a championship rather than maybe winning it on track, but it's how it falls this time, I guess."

W Series has seen growth over its third season and, despite this season coming to an early close, Chadwick remains positive that the competition will only come back stronger next year.

"I see a positive in terms of the series' future. I'm a bit disappointed not to be going to Austin especially because I felt last year the reception the W Series got in America was huge, and that's important for the series to go to some of these locations and get the response it's getting," she added.

"I really think W Series can be so proud of what they've achieved this season, regardless of how it's finished.

"We've had record-breaking races in terms of viewership at Silverstone and we've had great racing. The series continues to go from strength to strength, but the nature of the sport means financially it's not easy.

"The decision they've taken to miss these next races with a view to coming back stronger and the chance for the series to continue is the right one. Really, the series is, in my opinion, still very strong from a brand point of view.

"In terms of inspiring the next generation, giving those role models and experience to those working within the series, not even those driving, is so powerful and that's something they can't lose."

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