W Series Launches Women's Esports League

LONDON: the woman W series is launching a Sports league for female drivers only in the absence of any action on the track due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With its second season on hold and no start date set, organizers hope to keep the profile of the series and encourage more women to compete in the male-dominated virtual world as well as the real world.

"We intend to stage on-track W series races once the global COVID-19 crisis has subsided, whenever that will be, but in the meantime we're delighted to have created the next best thing," said advisory board chairman David Coulthard in a statement Thursday.

The 18 drivers who qualified for the W Series regular season, which was slated to start in St. Petersburg, Russia on May 29, are expected to run from their homes on identical simulators.

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W series did not set a date for the start of the League but said they will use the iRacing platform in partnership with Logitech G and tournament hosts Beyond Entertainment.

Virtual races have become a crowded market since the pandemic swept the world, with most championships broadcasting their own races online, but with few women involved.

The UK-based Women in Games estimated in 2018 that the number of women working in any role in eSports or eSports was around 5% or 1 in 20.

Market research firm Interpret said last year, however, that 30% of the eSports audience and 35% of eSports players were women and that the number was growing.

Britain Jamie Chadwick , the W series champion, is active with Veloce esports and has competed against Formula One drivers like Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc.

The 21-year-old told Reuters in December that attitudes had to change.

I think maybe the world of eSports is a little slower even than motorsports in the idea that women are part of it, he said then.

Formula One has not had a female run since 1976 and its eSports series does not yet have a female finalist in three editions.

W series said it would use 10 virtual layouts: Monza, Austin's Circuit of the Americas, Brands Hatch, Interlagos, Spa-Francorchamps, Watkins Glen, Suzuka, Bathurst, the Nuerburgring Nordschleife and Silverstone.

Drivers will compete in simulated 2.0-liter Tatuus Formula Renault cars with points awarded and up to three races per circuit. No decision has been made on the prize money.