The female-only W Series has announced it has cancelled its 2020 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

W Series’ second season was due to consist of eight-rounds and was scheduled to start in St Petersburg on May 30 but following consultation with the FIA, Formula 1, DTM and the series’ partners and suppliers, a decision was taken to scrap the campaign.

An expanded calendar is being planned for 2021 which will feature at least two races on the F1 calendar, supporting the United States and Mexican Grands Prix.

W Series was due to be the undercard at the Austin and Mexico City rounds this year and act as the climax to the season.

“After the resounding success of W Series’ debut season in 2019, our decision not to stage on-track races until 2021 is not one that has been taken lightly,” said W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir.

“However, we are already working on an exciting new W Series race calendar for 2021, and we are delighted to be able to confirm that W Series races will feature on the support cards of a number of Formula 1 Grands Prix next year, including the 2021 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas and the 2021 Mexican Grand Prix at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

“W Series is a global movement that exists to support the careers of female racing drivers everywhere, and to foster interest in and enthusiasm for motor racing among girls and women all over the world.

“The 18 women who had qualified to race in the 2020 W Series represent 12 different countries, and the eight circuits on which they were due to race this year are located in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America and Central America.

“Delivering an international calendar of the kind that W Series requires, so as to take W Series’ diversity and inclusion message to girls and women globally, while prioritising during a global pandemic the health and safety of our drivers, our staff and the many other people who make W Series events such a success, requires resource at a level beyond the scope of a brave new start-up such as W Series.

“However, now that we have taken the very difficult but ultimately unavoidable decision to end any uncertainty surrounding our 2020 plans, we will focus our energies clearly on 2021, when we will resume our on-track racing programme, bigger and better than ever before.”

Muir said the introduction of a new W Series Esports league will launch on 11 June to fill the void without real-world racing for the drivers scheduled to contest this year’s championship.

“In the meantime, this year, we remain committed to developing our drivers and entertaining our loyal fans all over the world,” Muir explained.

“To that end, we are progressing with our exciting and innovative new W Series Esports League, which will go live on June 11 2020. In addition, our brilliant management team – including 13-time F1 Grand Prix winner David Coulthard and our hugely experienced Racing Director Dave Ryan – will continue to provide our drivers with invaluable career advice and support.” 

F1’s managing director of motorsports, Ross Brawn, said it was a “big disappointment” for the sport to lose W Series from its support bill in the US and Mexico.

“W Series has had an incredible impact on the world of motorsport, and we were excited to have them join our schedule this year,” he added.

“It is a big disappointment for all of us that due to the difficulties presented by COVID-19 the events will not take place, but we are looking forward to some exciting racing in 2021 when the W Series returns.”