W Series, Iron Dames drivers prepare for Formula 3 test at Magny-Cours

W Series Iron Dames
Andrej Isakovic / Getty Images

Four female drivers, two from the W Series and two from the Iron Dames project, will take part in a Formula 3 test on November 9-10, at Magny-Cours, France.

Magny-Cours hosted the French GP from 1991 through 2008, which gives the drivers an opportunity to test their skill on a world class course.

All four drivers are still teenagers and hope to represent the next wave of diversity in Formula One. The W Series will be represented by 19-year-old Nerea Marti and Irina Sidorkova (18). The Iron Dames project will send Maya Weug (17) and Doriane Pin (17).

Marti and Sidorkova competed as part of the W Series’ Academy and made their debut this year in the female-only championship series that wrapped up their second season at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) last week with Jamie Chadwick crowned as champion. They will test on November 9.

One day later, Weug and Pin will climb behind the wheel.

“This F3 test is part of a larger diversity plan, with the goal to allow more female drivers to join our Championship in the near future,” said F3 CEO Bruno Michel at Formula1.com. “Today, it is still not easy for women to access the FIA single-seater pyramid. We want to help change this.

W Series Iron Dames
Nerea Marti finished third in the W Series Round 4 race at Hungaroring. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

“One key to making this happen is to create links between our Championships and programs that promote women in motorsport. As such, we have decided to offer an F3 test to two drivers from the Iron Dames program which is supported by both the FIA and the Ferrari Driver Academy.”

The Iron Dames project, “is poised to inspire the next generation of women to join the world of motorsport and it is now enjoying its biggest season ever, competing in more championships and with an unprecedent number of drivers,” according to their web site.

Formula One has not had a female driver in competition since Lella Lombardi started 12 races in 1975-1976 and scored two top-10s. Maria Teresa de Filippis made three starts in 1958 and also earned two top-10 finishes.

New initiatives like the W Series and Iron Dame project, with support from FIA, look to change provide a ladder into Formula One.

“Diversity is a very important subject for us,” Michel said. “Our wish is to ensure that more and more female drivers join our championship. We were very pleased to have Tatiana Calderon and Sophia Floersch on our grids, but as it stands, it’s still very hard for female drivers to do the same.

“We hope that this test is the first step towards making the road to Formula One for a female driver more systematic.”

Marti finished fourth in the W Series championship this season with a best finish of third.

Sidorkova finished ninth in the standings with one runner-up finish. She was the youngest series competitor in 2021.

“We also agreed that the W Academy drivers are in the best age-range to eventually join the single-seater pyramid, so we selected them for this test session,” Michel added.

W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir sees the test as proof that their concept is working.

“W Series exists to create a pathway for female racing drivers as they progress into the upper tiers of motorsport,” said Muir. “Today’s announcement that our two youngest drivers, Irina Sidorkova and Nerea Marti, will take part in a full testing day with the FIA Formula 3 Championship, is proof that we are succeeding in that mission.”

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.