Jamie Chadwick looks set to wrap up a third straight W Series title in Singapore this weekend but Telegraph Sport understands there are serious doubts over the all-female series’ ability to complete Season 3 due to funding issues which have left it owing “significant sums” to creditors.
Whisper is one of W Series' biggest creditors and the company, founded by David Coulthard and Jake Humphrey, usually sends a crew of 15 to 20 people to races. But it will not be sending anyone out to Asia this weekend as W Series tries desperately to raise the funds necessary to stay afloat.
Velocity Experience, which runs hospitality for W Series, is also understood to be owed a significant sum, while Telegraph Sport has spoken to multiple independent contractors who have not been paid invoices worth thousands of pounds, some of which date back months.
Set up in late 2018 by Catherine Bond Muir, a former lawyer and corporate finance banker, W Series is now into its third season. And while it has been praised for its efforts to promote female drivers, it has struggled for funding throughout that time.
Bond Muir admitted at the end of last year that it had been a battle to reach the end of Season 2.
W Series’ most recent accounts filed with Companies House on Sep 5 showed it had net liabilities of over £7.5million to Dec 31, 2021, which was deemed to be “in line with expectations given the business is in the start-up phase”.
Speaking on Wednesday night Bond Muir said the current global financial crisis, and depreciating pound, had only made her job harder. But she expressed confidence the series would survive.
“We’re having lots of conversations at the moment and I’m very optimistic. We’ve had to fight from day one. It has always been a struggle but we’re fighters.”
Telegraph Sport understands a multi-million pound deal with an unnamed American investor recently fell through after the contracts were signed.
Bond Muir declined to comment on that, and could not offer guarantees that the season would go on to the final double-header in Austin and Mexico if Chadwick wins this weekend, or even that all the drivers would be paid their prize money.
One of W Series’ biggest marketing points is the $500,000 first prize it offers its champion each season, out of a total prize pot of $1.5million.
Chadwick, who won the first two seasons and is guaranteed to win her third straight title on Sunday if she wins the race, will undoubtedly be factoring that money into any potential drive she has lined up in IndyLights or F3 next season as she tries to plot a route to F1.
“We’re looking at our budgets,” Bond Muir said. “We’re confident that we’ll continue to raise money.
"You have to understand W Series is a brand new sport. Tennis has equality now because Billie-Jean King fought for those rights 50 years ago. Football is slowly starting to become more equal. Rugby? We saw recently that England’s women flew economy to the World Cup where their male counterparts flew business. It takes time. We’re only in our third season. But we have had a huge impact already and we are a force for good.”
As far as this weekend’s television coverage is concerned, a W Series spokesperson said pre-recorded segments with their “in-house production crew” would provide full 10-minute build-ups to qualifying on Saturday and race on Sunday. Naomi Schiff will lead the coverage, with Alex Jacques as lead commentator.
“As per last season and this season, our broadcast is transmitted live from the Whisper gallery in Ealing, which will also be the case this weekend in Singapore,” she added.