W Series founder and chief executive Catherine Bond Muir says she will make a call “by the end of the week” over whether the cash-strapped series can complete its 2022 season.
Bond Muir added, however, that she was “increasingly confident” that W Series would survive into 2023 even if it had to end the current campaign early.
Telegraph Sport revealed on Wednesday that the all-female formula might not be able to complete the 2022 season due to significant funding issues and outstanding debts. The series is meant to have three more races, all on the undercard of Formula 1’s double-header in Austin and Mexico City later this month.
Bond Muir, speaking after Britain's Jamie Chadwick failed to wrap up her third successive title in Singapore on Sunday following a late crash in race seven, said she had been “touched” by the reaction to the Telegraph story, with messages of support coming in “from all over the world” and some of those conversations leading to potential investment.
“I've spoken to the staff today, and to the drivers, and from three days ago it's light and dark compared with now,” Bond Muir said. “It’s been a hell of a week. In one sense I feel humiliated that I have publicly failed to make [W Series] a constant and immediate success.
"But on the flipside I have been touched by the messages of support from people from all over the world saying they understand the battle we're facing trying to establish a new women's sport and telling me to ‘keep fighting, keep fighting’. So that's what we're doing.”
Bond Muir said the decision on whether to complete the season was “separate” to the survival of the series as a whole. She admitted W Series could potentially sacrifice its final three races of this year if it helped to secure its future.
“We need to figure out where we are at the end of next week and make that call. But I am highly confident that we will survive. We are fighting hard to get to the United States and Mexico. We will see.”
Chadwick, who had the chance to tie up her third straight title if she finished ahead of her closest competitors, was never in contention for the win, and eventually crashed out with four minutes remaining of the half-hour race as she attempted to pass Jess Hawkins for fifth place. It was a first-ever W Series retirement for the 24-year-old who looks set to move to Indy Lights next season. Beitske Visser won the race from Britain’s Alice Powell.
Chadwick still leads the championship by 50 points from Visser, with a maximum of 75 points available if W Series makes it to the USA and Mexico. She said she was “trying not to think about” the possibility that the series might fold, especially with Bond Muir not able to guarantee that this year’s champion will be awarded the $500,000 first prize.
“I don’t know,” Bond Muir said of how the standings would be sorted if the season ended early, and whether the prize money would be paid out in full. “Right now I’m just laser-focused on trying to raise funding. I’ve only had one or two hours sleep a night out here.”