The 2021 W Series calendar will include eight Formula 1 support races as part of a new partnership agreed between the two championships.

W Series was due to support F1 at two races this year in the USA and Mexico before its 2020 season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the world’s first female-only single-seater championship has secured a new deal with F1 to hold races at more than a third of rounds on the 2021 calendar.

Its calendar for its sophomore season is yet to be announced, as are the precise events that W Series will race at to support F1, but the revision of the Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships has opened up some space to fill.

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F2 and F3 have announced separate schedules for the 2021 F1 season for the first time in its history, with each series’ weekends comprising of three races per event on the F1 support bill.

W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said: “After such a successful inaugural season [2019], we at W Series are absolutely delighted to be partnering with Formula 1 for 2021 and beyond.

“Formula 1 is by some margin the world’s premier motor racing series, and, when we promised that W Series would be bigger and better in the future, partnering with Formula 1 was always our ultimate objective.

“There is no doubt that, now that W Series will be run alongside and in collaboration with Formula 1, our global reach, impact and influence will be increased significantly.

“Everything that made W Series so popular and successful in 2019 will remain. The cars will be identical, the racing will be close and competitive, and our mission will always be to further the interests and prospects of female racing drivers.

“We want W Series to entertain, and entertain it will. But we also want it to become a crucial default-option stepping stone for any female racing driver who wants to carve out a professional racing career, and our proximity to Formula 1 will help and enhance that process. The fact that W Series is now eligible for FIA Super Licence points will also be an important factor in that regard.

“We are very grateful to Chase Carey, Ross Brawn and their colleagues for having faith in W Series, and for prioritising diversity and inclusion in this way, and we intend to help them drive forwards their excellent #WeRaceAsOne programme this year and in years to come.”

F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn said the move highlights the championship’s push to improve diversity across motorsport.

“We are excited to announce our 2021 season this week and look forward to a thrilling season with an exciting mix of new races and established circuits that we missed during our unprecedented 2020 season,” he added.

“It is a really important moment for us to welcome W Series as partners for eight races this season. They have been a beacon to many since they began racing in 2019.

“We believe it is incredibly important to give everyone the chance to reach the highest levels of our sport and their partnership with Formula 1 next season shows our determination and commitment to showcase their exciting series and the importance of building greater diversity across the sport.”