Formula 1 approached W Series expressing its desire to have the all-female championship on its support bill and start negotiations for its new two-race undercard deal in 2020. 

On Thursday, F1 announced it had agreed a deal with W Series to add the championship to its support roster at this year’s United States and Mexican grands prix, acting as the W Series’ final two races on its eight-round 2020 calendar.

Speaking to media including Crash.net in a conference call held on Thursday morning, W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir revealed that it was F1 who initially kicked off proceedings by approaching the championship about a possible deal back in 2019.

“We’ve been in discussions with Formula 1 because we know the people that run the business there,” Muir said.

“They in fact approached us a few months ago and said that they would be interested in us being on their calendar.

"We looked at a number of potential races and it was the two races that fitted that into our calendar because we are racing with DTM in Europe, and what we wanted to do for the second season is just get bigger and better.

“We wanted to expand internationally and we felt that the second season, it was great for us to go to the Americas and we could race at Austin and Mexico.

“That was ideal for us and also great for our partners who are based in the Americas.”

Asked if W Series hopes to expand to be a full-time support event for F1 in the future, Muir replied: “We have a fantastic partnership with the DTM based in Europe and it is our preference to race with both of them hopefully going forwards, but who knows what will happen in the future.

“We will maybe explore in future years - but this isn’t necessary for 2021 - explore the prospect of having our own races in addition to DTM and F1.

“We’ve always said we have very bold and ambitious plans to expand across the world,” she added.

“In our first year we purposely stayed in Europe because we didn’t want to expand too quickly.

“I think these two races represent a sensible expansion in 2020 and hopefully we will expand across the other side of the world in Asia in 2021.”

As part of the deal, both W Series rounds in Texas and Mexico City will be broadcast on Sky Sports F1, as well as its own UK-based television agreement which is yet-to-be-announced. Channel 4 held the contract for W Series in 2019.

In its inaugural season, W Series claims it reached over 340 million households and Muir anticipates that figure to be “much higher” in 2020.

“We do plan on televising our races throughout the world,” Muir explained.

“We expect in 2020 for that [figure] to be much higher just because TV networks would have heard of W Series, whereas last year nobody knew what W Series was. We will have all our races televised.”

While finer details regarding how F1 will accomodate W Series around its weekend schedule are still being worked on, W Series is expected to retain its 30-minute plus one lap race format for the two F1 rounds.

 

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