W Series champions no longer allowed to defend title
W Series has announced it will no longer allow its champion to compete in the series the following year, meaning they will be unable to defend their title.
The rule change comes in for the 2020 season – W Series second season – meaning reigning champion Jamie Chadwick can compete next year, but should she win the championship again, she will not be eligible to return in 2021 – she would however become the only two-time W Series champion.
The rule change has been implemented following the decision to grant FIA Super Licence points, which stipulates that junior category championship-winning drivers must be ineligible to return next year.
W Series' Dave Ryan believes it would have been wrong to implement such a rule in the first season.
"We decided that, since the 2019 W Series season had been set up rigorously to address a specific need – namely to provide racing opportunities for a group of female drivers many of whose careers had hit the buffers owing to lack of opportunity rather than lack of talent – it would defeat the object of our ambition if we were to withhold from our first ever champion the chance to defend her crown.
"In a sense, in the absence of suitable race drives that a W Series champion’s prize money [US$500,000] would have made available, to do so would have been to punish her for her success," he said.
"From the 2020 W Series season onwards, W Series has been granted FIA Super Licence points eligibility, and one of the criteria attached to that is that the winning driver of the W Series championship may not compete in consecutive W Series championships – and that restriction will apply going forward.
"But, just to be clear, that didn’t apply to the 2019 W Series champion since no FIA Super Licence points were awarded in respect of the 2019 W Series championship, but it does mean that whoever is W Series champion in 2020 will not be permitted to take part in the 2021 W Series championship, and so on."