W Series’ chief executive officer Catherine Bond Muir says she sees “no business case” in supporting female drivers through driver development programmes.
Her comments come as the championship once again runs into financial issues, with reports it may not complete its 2022 season, which kicks back into action in Singapore this weekend.
In 2019 the W Series company failed to pay significant partners, prompting their exit prior to the series’ return in 2021. It ended that year with net liabilities of £7,572,802 according to the company’s most recent unaudited financial statements. However, the company’s liabilities include a loan from one of the two directors amounting to £5.16 million.
The cash position of the company deteriorated during 2021, leaving it with just £212,367 in the bank at the end of the year. Despite raising additional capital, the cumulative losses of the company increased by £13.34 million in the same period and it was owed over £4.5 million by debtors.
According to public filings, the company has managed to raise an additional £3.58 million in capital from shareholders during 2022 in an attempt to maintain liquidity. With the last three rounds all being flyaways, in Singapore, the USA and Mexico, there is a pricey end to the season ahead.
“The success of motorsport is all about money. You know, we can’t get away from that fact, that our sport is incredibly expensive,” Bond Muir said in a recent press session.
“And money therefore does have to flow. And that goes back to why we were set up, which is obviously is to progress women in motorsport, but most importantly, drivers in motorsport.
“People criticised us because they said ‘well you should be like Red Bull and you should pick the equivalent of Jamie [Chadwick] and then follow her all the way through’. But my background is in business and banking and law, and there’s no business case. That’s to me, that’s not investment money, that’s either charity or that would be marketing money from a sponsor.
“What we have set up in W series is hopefully a sustainable business. So that is the only way that I could do that, because that’s my background. Now, if anyone else can decide that they want to put money into female karters and take them all the way through, then that would be fantastic and we would applaud that. But at the moment, that isn’t happening.”
The Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team and Richard Mille both back female drivers from karting up into car racing, while Alpine, Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams (which supports W Series champion Chadwick) have all had female members.
W Series star Alice Powell is also the Alpine Academy’s talent identification and development mentor, with a focus on finding female talent to back.