The champion of the next W Series season will not be able to defend their title due to the series’ new FIA Superlicence eligibility.
As in other junior single-seater series which carry official FIA international status, and that award points for the superlicence required to race in Formula 1, the champion will not be allowed to defend their title the following year.
This rule does not effect 2019 W Series champion Jamie Chadwick, as her title came prior to the series’ gaining its current FIA recognition.
“One of the criteria attached to [superlicence eligibility] is that the winning driver of the W Series championship may not compete in consecutive W Series championships – and that restriction will apply going forward,” said W Series racing director Dave Ryan.
“That didn’t apply to the 2019 W Series champion since no FIA superlicence points were awarded in respect of the 2019 W Series championship, but it does mean that whoever is champion in 2020 will not be permitted to take part in the 2021 championship, and so on.”
“We haven’t yet discussed exactly how we’ll decide the entry criteria of the 2021 W Series championship, but I’ll say two things now. Our 2020 champion won’t be competing in it, and we’ll surely include in it a mix of our best drivers from the 2020 season plus the best of a new group of drivers whom we’ll select using a method or methods that we haven’t yet worked out.”
There are currently two spaces on the 2020 W Series grid yet to be filled, with six additions to the field being announced last week after driver selection tests at Almeria in Spain. They will accompany the top 12 drivers from the inaugural season.
“Those six [additions] weren’t the only drivers who impressed us at Almeria last month, but some of the others have scheduling issues that we wanted to allow them – and us – more time to work out.
“They may race with us next year, but they may not. It depends on the scheduling issues I’ve mentioned. To be clear, and to clarify some media speculation on the subject, I’m not now referring to Katherine [Legge] or Michelle [Gatting].
“A very experienced driver, Katherine performed extremely well at Almeria, as you’d expect, but, despite being favourably impressed by the quality of the W Series operation, she decided to remain focused on her USA-based racing programme in 2020 and as such hasn’t put her name forward to race with us next year.
“Michelle performed extremely well at Almeria too, but also elected not to race with us next year but instead to concentrate on other series.
“The eight drivers who failed to finish in the top 12 in the 2019 season were all considered for inclusion in the 2020 [season], and it’s possible that one or two may yet be reintroduced. It all depends on the scheduling issues.”