W Series Chief Executive Officer Catherine Bond Muir still expects the championship will be able to fund all of the seats for drivers, despite hitting financial problems which cut short its 2022 season.
The all-female series has historically never asked drivers to come with financial backing, which is a different business model to other junior motorsport categories which require drivers to pay to race.
This was done to keep the barrier to entry low, ensuring that female drivers with talent get proper exposure rather than it being all about the drivers with the most investment.
"As far as we're concerned at the moment, we want to keep the DNA of W Series going and it is our intention to still be providing all of the expenses for drivers," said Bond Muir to media, including RacingNews365.com.
Bond Muir told all the drivers in a Zoom call about the fate of the 2022 season earlier this week, shortly before it was officially announced that they would not be contesting the United States and Mexico rounds on the Formula 1 support bill.
"They [drivers] were understanding, but really, the feeling that came out of it was, 'Yeah, this is rubbish. But Catherine, this is what we've dealt with for 20 years. We've had promises of money, we've had contractual commitments for money, and that haven't come through.'"
Bond Muir: W Series about supporting "best drivers, not richest"
Bond Muir says it's important for the series to remain cost-free for entrants because of how hard it can be for female drivers to attract sponsorship.
She explained: "We've always said, we're about finding the best drivers not the richest. The majority of W Series drivers find it extremely difficult to get any form of sponsorship.
"With the men's side of the sport it is incredibly tough, but I do think that for the women, it's even tougher. You only have to compare what's happening with us to all other female sports. The going is tough."
After England Women's team generated more investment and exposure for woman's football following their success at the 2022 Euros, Bond Muir believes that the same thing can happen across the board for woman's sport.
"The only sport that seems to have had any sort of parity with the men's side is tennis. Football in this country [UK] has had a massive bullet with winning the Euros.
"They're getting the audiences, we're getting the television audiences. While I'm not comparing myself to football because they've been going for a lot longer than we have, my overall belief is that women's sport will continue to grow exponentially."
Closed paddock in 2021 had knock-on effect for attracting investment
While Bond Muir cited the "global economic downturn" as one of the main reasons why W Series struggled to complete their season, there were other factors including limitations on the amount of guests that could be invited due to Covid restrictions.
This meant prospective investors were not able to be invited, and those who were did not get the full experience that would have been offered.
"I think what was difficult for us last year was not having guests. Having a closed season last year, prevented us from having a really good sell into this year," said Bond Muir.
"As those who have come to the W Series paddock will know, it's a great sight to see all the cars being pushed out together, all the drivers getting in the cars together.
"That seems to be where we were most successful at securing the [investment] deal, and therefore there was a knock-on to this year because of that."
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Bond Muir "extremely confident" W Series will return for 2023
W Series is set to make a return for 2023, which Bond Muir said she is "extremely confident" about and believes that it could still be part of the F1 support bill depending on which races they offer.
"I am extremely confident that W Series will be here next year, which I hope you'll all be happy about," she explained.
"We do want to still be on the F1 support bill. But obviously going forward, we need to be mindful of our costs. It would be prudent to have more European races than we have and these are somewhat of a scarcity with F1."
With regards to supporting other championships, as the series has done in the past with DTM, Bond Muir did not confirm specifically but alluded to the fact that it could happen.
"I think you will be thinking about all the options that we're thinking about," she replied.
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