🏎W Series Preview
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
My parents wanted a princess but instead they got a racer.
—Irina Sidorkova, a 17-year-old Russian driver who will make her debut today as the youngest W Series driver. Badass.
🙋♀️ History of women in motorsport
Before we get into the W Series, let’s dive into a quick history of women in motorsport. While there are no official rules barring women from entering top racing series like Formula One (F1), NASCAR, IndyCar and MotoGP, motorsport has long been one of the toughest male-dominated industries for women to crack into...but not impossible.
- Women have been competing in motorsport for over 120 years. Drivers like Camille du Gast and Dorothy Levitt in the 1900s, Eliška Junková in the ’20s, and the all-female 24 Heures du Mans crew in 1930 set the stage before the dawn of F1 in 1950.
But in F1’s 70-year history, only five women have entered — and only two have competed in — a Grand Prix race. The first was Maria Teresa de Filippis (who got into racing after her brothers said she couldn’t drive fast), and at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, Lella Lombardi became the only woman to score points.
- In NASCAR, 16 women have competed at the top level: Sarah Christian broke the gender barrier in 1949 and Janet Guthrie became the first woman to qualify for both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in 1977.
These incredible women fought hard to race in the upper echelons of motorsport, but the biggest barrier in achieving equality has been the lack of sponsorship for female drivers.
- Race car driving is an expensive business, and without sponsors to help cover costs, many women don’t have the opportunity to compete amongst the men. Enter the W Series.
🏎 The W Series
Conceived in secret over two years, the W Series was announced in late 2018, ahead of the inaugural 2019 season. The series is free to enter (for reference, Mercedes paid nearly $5.5 million to race in F1’s 2020 season), and sponsorships are not required, eliminating that huge roadblock (pun intended) we mentioned.
- In the beginning, the series wasn’t met with open arms, as many feared the series would further segregate women. But, the W Series’ first season only helped promote female drivers, providing them with elite-level professional experience.
- The first season ran six races, with Jamie Chadwick (who was skeptical about a female series herself) winning the first ever W Series title, but plans to expand in 2020 were nixed due to the pandemic. Now, the W is back for 2021 and better than ever...
🎉 The new season
Eight races on seven legendary circuits. Every W Series race this season will “support” F1, meaning the W series will compete on the same track every F1 weekend, on Saturday after F1’s qualifying.
- Eighteen drivers will kick off the four-month season today with the first of two back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Drivers compete for points each race using the same system as F1, with points accumulating over the season. The driver with the most points by the final race of the season — at Mexico’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit on October 30th — wins the W Series Championship.
- But unlike in F1, there are no teams in the W Series (for now, anyway). Instead, every driver races independently with a mechanically identical car, so the outcome lies solely on the driver’s ability and performance. A concept.
🏆 The reigning champ
🇬🇧Jamie Chadwick: A name that needs no introduction...but we’ll give you one anyway. Chadwick began karting at the age of 12 and was an ace from the get-go. In 2015, she won the British GT Championship in her first non-junior season, becoming the first woman and youngest-ever champion.
- Besides winning the inaugural W Series championship, she’s also won the MRF Challenge and raced in F3 (a feeder series for F1).
- Along with defending her W title this year, she’s also racing in Extreme E— a new racing series that promotes environmental protection and gender equality — and is currently a development driver for the Williams F1 team. A true multitasker.
💪 The top contenders
🇳🇱Beitske Visser: The W Series went virtual when the 2020 season was canceled, holding 10 iRacing races to fill the void. After finishing the 2019 season in second place, the Dutch Visser won the eSports championship, and will be back in a real car to contend for the 2021 title.
🇬🇧Alice Powell: The Englishwoman finished third in 2019, with one win, two second-place finishes and one third, as well as two unfortunate retirements. She has pole position today, and if she manages to finish all eight races this season, she could be the one to beat.
🇪🇸Marta García: Like most race car drivers, the Spanish 20-year-old got her start in karting. Six years ago, she won the oldest kart race in the world — the Trofeo delle Industrie — joining the ranks of past winners like Lewis Hamilton, Sebastien Vettel and countryman Fernando Alonso who all went on to become F1 World Champions. Sign of things to come?
🇫🇮Emma Kimiläinen: The oldest competitor in the series, a 31-year-old from Finland, suffered a nasty crash in the third race of the 2019 season, which reinjured a lingering neck sprain (and as we know, strong necks are very important in racing). The Finn came back to win 2019’s fifth race and finished the season fifth overall.
🇺🇸Sabré Cook: The only North American on the grid this season, the Coloradan (who is also a mechanical engineer, NBD) is set for her best racing season yet. Unlike most of her European competitors, Cook’s ultimate goal after the W Series is making it to IndyCar à la Danica Patrick, and we have no doubt she’ll dominate.
📺 How to watch
The season starts today at 10:30 a.m. ET on TSN in Canada and coverage in the U.S. starts at 9 a.m. on beIN Sports. Be sure to follow the W Series on Twitter and Instagram for all the live action. Start your engines!
Sports Quick Hits: June 21st, 2021
🥇Olympics: With only a month before the first Olympic events begin, some athletes are still qualifying. The Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials began over the weekend — where current 100m backstroke world champion and mermaid, Kylie Masse, broke her own Canadian record — and .
⛳️Golf: It wasn’t meant to be for Canadian and Mackenzie Hughes this weekend. He finished tied for 15th in the U.S. Open yesterday, 7 strokes behind winner, Spaniard Jon Rahm. Turns out, getting isn’t great for your final score.
🏀NBA: Canada’s basketball GOAT is out. Even though Kevin Durant , head coach Steve Nash and his Brooklyn Nets lost Game 7 to the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime on Saturday. The Bucks will now face the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals while the Phoenix Suns lead the LA Clippers 1-0 in the west.
🏎F1: Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen found his wings during the second-last lap of yesterday’s French Grand Prix, when he passed reigning champ Lewis Hamilton and won his third race of the season. Next up is a double-header in Austria, where the W Series season is also set to start (more about that Saturday *wink wink*).
Sports Quick Hits: Monday May 24th, 2021
⛳️Golf: As we mentioned at the top, Phil Mickelson proved age is just a number yesterday with his second-career PGA Championship win. Not only is he the oldest player to win a major, he’s just the fourth to win one in four separate decades. Congrats, Lefty! Now let’s get you some .
🏎️F1: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix to take his first-ever lead in the . Meanwhile, seven-time world champ Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton wasn’t feeling it in Monaco, finishing in a disappointing seventh as he and Verstappen continue their for the title.
🎾Tennis: wasn’t the only one showing out for Gen Z this weekend. On Saturday, 17-year-old Coco Gauff notched her first career singles title on clay while . Perfect timing before next week’s French Open. Très bien.
🏎Monaco Grand Prix Preview
QUOTE OF THE DAY
I hate Monaco. It’s like riding a bicycle around your living room.
—Former Formula One (F1) driver and three-time World Champion, Nelson Piquet, on the challenges of one of the world’s most difficult racing circuits. He was just mad to never have won the Monaco GP in his 14-year career.
🇲🇨 The backstory
Nestled along France’s Mediterranean coast, Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world (behind the Vatican) and covers less than one square-mile of land (the whole country could fit inside NYC’s Central Park with room to spare). What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in wealth and glamor.
- Known as the “billionaires’ playground,” Monaco is famous for its high GDP, low taxes, plethora of ultra-rich citizens, movie stars-turned-royals, the Grimaldi family curse, the Monte Carlo Casino and, of course, the Monaco Grand Prix.
F1’s Monaco Grand Prix (GP) is one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events. As one of three races that make up the unofficial Triple Crown of Motorsport — along with the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans — the Monaco GP actually predates F1 with the first race held in 1929. F1 was formed in 1950.
- For a refresher on all things F1, check out our F1 Sunday Scroll from the beginning of the 2021 season here.
🏎 The race
We know what you’re thinking: “How can a country the size of my backyard fit an entire F1 race track?” And the answer is, it can’t. Instead, the race takes place on the tight, winding roads of Monaco itself.
Before we get further into it, we should lay the cards on the table: the race itself can be incredibly boring. Because of Monaco’s typically narrow European streets, there isn’t a whole lot of room for passing or legitimate racing.
- And the race doesn’t have any special points or trophies up for grabs either. F1 drivers earn points collectively throughout the season, and winning the Monaco GP is worth just as many (25 to be exact) as any other race on the schedule.
What makes the Monaco GP so special?And what makes completing it one of the top accomplishments for any race car driver? It’s the high level of technical skill needed to finish one of the most challenging circuits in all of motorsport.
- F1 drivers are here for a personal challenge, a place in the history books and the ever-elusive bragging rights.
🏁 The circuit
Every corner on the Monaco track has a name and a story. Here are a few of the most memorable ones:
- Loews Hairpin: A tight 180° turn, also known as the Fairmont Hairpin because of its location by the hotel. It’s the slowest corner in any F1 circuit, with drivers dropping to 30mph (50km/h)...but, uh, that’s still fast.
- Tabac: Named for a tobacco shop along the road (super original), this corner is the site of an infamous wave that covered the track and caused a multi-car pile up during the 1950 event.
- Nouvelle Chicane: Formerly known as Chicane du Port, Italian driver Alberto Ascari entered this harborfront, two-corner combo a little too quickly during the 1955 Monaco GP and ended up...in the harbor.
👍 The highs
Some of F1’s best moments came during the Monaco GP. One of F1’s all-time greats, Graham Hill, earned the nickname “Mr. Monaco” in the 1960s after he won five Monaco GPs in seven years.
In 1982, the event was dubbed “The Race No One Wanted to Win,” when the leader changed four times in the last three laps (exciting!). And the 1992 event, which saw Ayrton Senna battle Nigel Mansell right to the end, is still widely considered the best ever.
- It was Senna who was able to top “Mr. Monaco’s” win streak, with six wins in seven years before his tragic death during a racing accident in 1994.
👎 The lows
It’s not always spectacularly glamorous. The Monaco GP has seen plenty of accidents and has claimed one life: Lorenzo Bandini’s. He was killed after losing control of his car on the 82nd lap (of 100) in the 1967 event.
- In 1966, only four cars finished the race after a string of accidents and mechanical failures, and in 1996, only three of 21 cars made it through the day’s wet conditions to the finish line, marking the fewest finishers in an F1 race on record.
- Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Räikkönen hit a personal low in 2006 when his car failed on his 50th lap. He made the most of it though, walking to his yacht in the marina instead of back to his team’s paddock to watch the rest of the race with his friends. Power move.
🤩 The celebrities
Formula One is one of those sports that non-F1 athletes, like Serena Williams, love to watch, and the Monaco GP is frequented by celebrities and royalty. Here are a few of our favorite celeb appearances over the years:
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback (QB) Tom Brady: Before he tossed the Lombardi Trophy between boats this year, the Super Bowl-winning QB made a touchdown-worthy pass to driver Danny Ricciardo between yachts.
- Game of Thrones: The GoT stars took a break from car-less Westeros to live it up in Monacoin 2018, and
Jaime LannisterNikolaj Coster-Waldau even took a spin around the track.
- Monaco’s royal family: The Monaco GP runs under the patronage of the Monegasque royals, meaning it’s the only F1 trophy presented by legit royalty every year. Fancy.
👀 How to watch
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will be lookingfor his fourth win of the season and 99th of his career when the Monaco GP starts today at 9 a.m. ET, but Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen will be hot on his tail, chasing his first victory in Monaco. In case you miss it, we’ll let you know who wins in tomorrow’s newsletter.
Kentucky Derby winner fails drug test
🏇Horse racing: Recent Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed his drug test. Yes, the horse. The American thoroughbred owned by Bob Baffert is at risk of having his title revoked, in what was Baffert’s record seventh win. Baffert has been banned from Churchill Downs (the Derby’s venue) while investigations continue.
- This isn’t the first time Baffert has been his winning horses, with at least 30 in his career. Maybe the regulators will go after him and the law can get involved about the animal abuse?
🏎 Formula One: To absolutely no one’s surprise, Sir Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix yesterday, thanks to some sneaky strategy from his Mercedes team. F1 is on hiatus until the May 23rd Monaco Grand Prix, so while you wait, check out the latest podcast episode featuring the first-ever female F1 team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn.
🥌 Curling: Switzerland won the World Women’s Curling Championship yesterday, earning a spot in next year’s Olympics. Meanwhile, Team USA won the bronze and Team Canada earned an Olympic berth.
⛳️ Golf: A couple of longtime droughts ended in the golf world this weekend. Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy yesterday, his first win since November 2019, while Ariya Jutanugarn in her home country. It marked her 11th career victory, but the first in 1,015 days (almost four years!).