This week marked the announcement of the W Series – a free-to-enter series exclusively for female drivers.
The series will provide 18 to 20 identically prepared Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 cars with a prize fund reported at $1.5 million. Their intention is to provide a showcase by bringing female racers together in one series where they will be the focus of the race.
The series boasts contributions by Formula 1 racer David Coulthard, car designer Adrian Newey and team manager Dave Ryan among others.
Not everyone is happy.
“What a sad day for motorsport,” Mann wrote in a tweet the day of the announcement. “Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them. I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backwards take place in my life time.”
It is an opinion she has held for more than a year, when the series was first conceived. Mann described it then as “The Handmaid’s Series”.
And wrote: “Just as the twisted society of Gilead in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is desperate to sell itself as a real solution to the problems of that imagined 21st century, the ring masters of this travesty are desperate to sell themselves as the solution needed to the sponsorship struggles faced by so many female drivers.”
With no physical barriers to racing, the difference between success and failure comes down to funding – according to Mann.
For Mann, diverting funding into a series in which females will not race against the best male counterpoints dilutes finite resources available.
According to the W Series, the success of women in racing also comes down to having a large enough pool of female drivers to allow excellence to rise to the top.
The W Series has announced a six-race schedule in 2019 to run in conjunction with the DTM Series.