Jessica Hawkins: 'We can't let the first women's motor racing series fail'

Aston Martin driver ambassador Jessica Hawkins believes it should not be an option to allow the W Series – motor racing's female-only championship – to become extinct.

There are grave concerns for the future of the series after it was forced to abandon its most recent season with three rounds remaining.

W Series chiefs remain hopeful the cash-strapped championship will return next year.

But the emergence of plans at last weekend's United States Grand Prix for a Formula One-backed women's category, aimed at younger drivers, has placed further doubts over the likelihood of W Series continuing.

British driver Hawkins, who has competed in all three W Series campaigns, said: "We can't let the first ground-breaking women's motor racing series fail. We can't let it happen, not in 2022. It is not an option."

The W Series was established in 2019 to serve as a springboard to F1, with British driver Jamie Chadwick securing a hat-trick of championships.

But despite her success, Chadwick, 24, has been unable to lock down a seat in either of F1's feeder divisions, Formula Two or Formula Three.

It has been 46 years since a female competitor - the Italian Lella Lombardi - took part in an F1 race and eight years since Susie Wolff, who is married to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, competed in a Grand Prix practice session.

The proposed new female racing series, which could launch as early as next year, is understood to want to focus on drivers aged between 16 and 22, with a direct path to F1's feeder categories.

Hawkins added: "I welcome this championship, but I don't think it will cure the issue of why there hasn't been a female driver in Formula One.

"It will be a massive help, but let's not disregard those who have done well so far. It is not too late for the older drivers. I am not finished with my career. I am 27, I have many years ahead of me and I don't want it to end.

"Look at the Lionesses. We are seeing the reward of the amazing work of the current team, but we are actually gaining from the work that was done five, 10 or 20 years ago.

"I feel like W Series has helped make that happen, and we will see the reward of the series in a few years' time."

Last weekend in Austin, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton called on F1 to do more to help women reach the highest level of motorsport amid the W Series' financial troubles.

"Lewis' comments were fantastic," added Hawkins. "Using his platform to endorse the championship is really powerful and he has been a real advocate for the series.

"It is underestimated how powerful his voice is. It gives us belief that the people at the top are helping us as well. It is encouraging, and Lewis has been a real advocate for it."

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