Austria’s Styrian mountains will provide a fittingly dramatic backdrop when W Series returns to the track this weekend after nearly two years away.
The international all-female single-seater motor racing championship will race in partnership with the FIA Formula 1 World Championship for eight rounds in 2021, starting with a double header in Austria on 26 June and 3 July in support of the Styrian and Austrian Grands Prix respectively.
The 4.318 kilometre (2.683 mile) Red Bull Ring in Spielberg was built in 1970 and has undergone several changes since then.
The present layout dates back to 2011 when the A1 Ring was transformed into the modern facility of today. The circuit may be short but it packs a punch with plenty of undulations, fast sweeping corners and heavy braking zones. Two of Austria’s most famous racing drivers, Niki Lauda and Jochen Rindt, have sections named after them at the track which has hosted 34 F1 Grands Prix to date.
W Series has not competed on-track since the dramatic conclusion to season one at Brands Hatch in August 2019 which saw Jamie Chadwick become the inaugural champion. The Briton and her 17 rivals – including Polish reserve driver Gosia Rdest – will make their long-awaited return on Friday 25 June at 13.10 (local time, CEST) for a 30-minute practice session. This will be followed on the same day by qualifying from 16.30 to 17.00. The first race of the season of 30 minutes plus one lap will start at 16.30 on Saturday 26 June.
Round two will start on Friday 2 July with practice from 12.55 to 13.25, followed by qualifying from 16.30 to 17.00 on the same day. The second race of the season will start at 16.30 on Saturday 3 July and once again be contested over 30 minutes plus one lap.
Having got back up to speed in the Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 race cars during pre-season testing at the Anglesey Circuit, Wales, in May, W Series’ drivers are well prepared for the start of the campaign. Jamie, Gosia, Vicky Piria, Beitske Visser, Fabienne Wohlwend and Emma Kimiläinen are among those with previous experience of this iconic circuit where the weather often adds even more drama to proceedings.
Looking ahead to the championship’s first weekend on the F1 schedule, the sport’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn said: “We are incredibly proud to have W Series join us for their first race of the season, ensuring we continue to showcase the best of the best and grow our motorsport portfolio, as well as enhancing the overall fan experience across the weekend.
“It also ensures we continue to champion and build diversity across the sport, with many of the women competing in the series already ingrained within the Formula 1 community. We can’t wait to see how the championship progresses and are thrilled to welcome W Series to the Formula 1 community.”