Caitlyn Jenner-sponsored driver wins all-women racing series after season cancellation
W Series, a free-to-enter racing series that boasts an all-women grid and supports Formula One at select Grand Prix weekends, canceled its final three scheduled races of the 2022 season due to a lack of funding.
In a statement Monday, W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said the decision was made because an investment fell through, and the organization will now "focus on the longer-term fundraising process" to support a full season in 2023 and beyond.
That means W Series will not hold its annual race at the 2022 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas Oct. 22, or its scheduled doubleheader at the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix in Mexico City Oct. 29.
With the season over, the 2022 championship was awarded to British driver Jamie Chadwick, who races for Jenner Racing, a team owned by former Olympic athlete and racing driver Caitlyn Jenner.
What is W Series?
W Series is an all-women, single-seater racing series sanctioned by the FIA, the global governing body of motorsport. The series' first season was in 2019. It did not have a 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The series competes at select Formula One Grand Prix weekends. Along with other junior racing series, such as Formula 2 and Formula 3, W Series holds practices, qualifying sessions and feature races on the same weekends and on the same tracks used by F1.
W Series says it aims to create pathways for women racing drivers and to encourage more girls to participate in junior karting. With the exposure of competing at F1 events, W Series hopes more sponsors consider supporting women racing drivers as they progress into the upper tiers of motorsport.
"The more high-profile role models it can create, the more W Series believes it will inspire young girls to go karting — if you can see it, you can be it," a statement from the W Series read.
Why was the W Series season canceled?
Required funding owed to the business from a "recent contracted investment was not received." No further details were provided about the investment.
Muir said the lack of funds forced W Series into an unfortunate cost-cutting decision to axe the final three races of 2022. She called the situation sad and frustrating.
"As a start-up in only our third season of racing, we are always working hard to ensure regularity of funding as we continue to grow our business," Muir said in a statement. "We have worked hard to raise the required funding to enable us to finish the season. Unfortunately, it was not possible to do this in the short timeframe required following the failure of contracted funds to arrive and the global economic downturn.
"However, while we are all incredibly disappointed that this decision has had to be made in the short term, we remain positive about the future of W Series in the long term. It is well-documented that women’s sports receive far less funding than its male counterparts, and W Series is no exception. We are incredibly thankful for the help and support we have received in recent weeks."
What is Caitlyn Jenner's involvement in W Series?
Caitlyn Jenner, former Olympic athlete and racing driver, owns a team that competes in W Series called Jenner Racing. Chadwick, one of the team's two drivers, was named the 2022 champion in wake of the curtailed season. It is Chadwick's third championship in three seasons.
American driver Chloe Chambers was the second member of the Jenner Racing.
Jenner posted a tweet Monday congratulating Chadwick on her championship but did not comment specifically on W Series curtailing its season.
"Great work @JamieChadwick and thank you for your dedication to Jenner Racing, this season!" Jenner's Twitter account posted. "You are officially a champion (again) and made our first year, epic! Onwards and upwards!"
Jenner had a brief career as a racing driver in the 1980s driving in the International Motorsports Association's Camel GT Series. Jenner won the 1986 12 Hours of Sebring event and finished second in the championship that year. She formed her W Series team earlier this year.
Chadwick, 24, has dominated the series since its inception but has been unable to secure a position at a higher level, including F2 and F3. It is unclear whether Chadwick will return to W Series in 2023, but she tested an IndyLights car for Andretti Autosport in September.
"I want to extend a huge congratulations to our triple-champion Jamie Chadwick," Muir said in the statement. "She has dominated the 2022 W Series and this championship is well-deserved. We have been and always will be incredibly proud and supportive of her career and wish her well in her next exciting chapter."