Lewis Hamilton ‘the only F1 driver who showed an interest in W Series’

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton smiling as he adjusts his cap. Barcelona, Spain 2023.

Lewis Hamilton smiling as he adjusts his cap. Barcelona, Spain 2023.

Ted Kravitz has revealed how Lewis Hamilton was the only F1 driver to his knowledge to have ever visited the W Series paddock.

The all-female racing series has recently entered administration after falling into financial difficulties during its third season back in 2022.

The championship was created as a private venture with shareholders including David Coulthard and Adrian Newey and was envisioned as a means to allow female racers to race in their own championship as a way to showcase their talents and springboard on into other championships.

Jamie Chadwick, who won the inaugural championship in 2019 as well as in 2021 and the curtailed ’22 season, now races in Indy NXT, while Formula 1 has created its own all-female racing series F1 Academy following the apparent demise of W Series.

Speaking on the Sky F1 podcast, broadcaster Ted Kravitz, who carried out broadcasting work with W Series in its first season, revealed that, despite becoming a support race for Formula 1, only one F1 driver ever bothered to visit the W Series paddock – seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

“This was a question I asked Lewis Hamilton, because Lewis Hamilton, to my almost certain knowledge, was the only driver who bothered to come down to the W Series paddock,” Kravitz said, “I asked him what he felt still needed to be done to continue the work of W Series.

“He was looking at companies coming in, and I don’t think W Series were too far away – I don’t think you’re talking about tens of millions of pounds that W Series fell short by, it was certainly not multiple tens of millions.

“In the grand scheme of F1 sponsorships and stuff that’s going on, the amount of money that’s in F1 at the moment, it wouldn’t have been much for one of the sponsors or somebody to have thrown W Series the lifeline.

“Maybe in administration, it might yet still, we don’t know, Dave Ryan has still got the cars, the cars are available if they could get through the administration process. The administrators have talked about how they want to keep it going as a going concern, if at all possible. Maybe it could still carry on.

“But there wasn’t too much money that was still needed. Lewis was talking about that – there just needs to be this commitment, ‘put your money where your mouth is’, all these people who want to carry on the cause of female drivers in F1. Maybe it’ll take five years, maybe it’ll take 10, but we will get a female Formula 1 driver.”

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Despite the F1 Academy seemingly picking up where W Series left off, Kravitz hinted at not being convinced by the Formula 1-backed series having quite the same commitment to progress as its predecessor.

“The F1 Academy, at the moment, wouldn’t have happened without W Series,” he said.

“Obviously, it is carrying on and is providing that springboard for female talent to come in, but let’s not forget F1 Academy needs 150,000 euros from each driver. Another 150,000 euros is matched from Formula 1 into the racing teams and that enables them to go racing – W Series was free for anybody who was good enough, any driver who was good enough to enter.

“Not only was it free, it paid prize money, it was a paid job! All you had to do as a driver, whether you’re Bruna Tomaselli from Brazil or Bianca Bustamante from the Philippines, was to get yourself to your local international airport, and W Series would fly you to the races, which is a big thing!

“They paid you, so you’d get prize money for winning, which Jamie Chadwick did those three times, and then down to participation money, and all your meals and all of that. So that’s a key difference.

“I got involved in the W Series at the beginning, because there were good people – Catherine Muir and her team there. It was nice to work with good people. It was good people and I believed in it.

“W Series gave the opportunity to get in there and show what they could do.”