However, British racer Pippa Mann, a winner in the U.S. Indy Lights series and who has competed six times in the Indianapolis 500, declared the latest move “a sad day for motorsport.”
“Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them,” she said on Twitter Wednesday.
“I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backwards take place in my lifetime.”
Newey, who has played integral roles in producing cars that have won 20 Formula One drivers’ and constructors’ titles, defended the venture and believes it’s a natural approach to progress the sport for women.
“I have a reasonable understanding of the constituents of a top-class driver’s necessary skill-set. With proper training women are physically strong enough to tick that constituent,” said Newey. “The reason why so few women have so far raced successfully at the highest levels against men may, however, be a lack of opportunity rather than a lack of capability.”
Organizers also hope that this new format will not only showcase the best of single-seater women’s racing, but by increasing the number of women involved in the motorsport it will create a new pathway into Formula One.
“There are just too few women competing,” said W Series Chief Executive Catherine Bond Muir. “W Series will increase that number very significantly in 2019, thereby powerfully unleashing the potential of many more female racing drivers. W Series drivers will become global superstars — inspirational role models for women everywhere.”
No woman has scored a point in Formula One, although Italian Lella Lombardi scored a half point in the shortened 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, and only two have started races since the championship began in 1950.