Female-only single-seater category W Series has received a big boost for its second year by becoming part of the weekend programme for Formula 1's American and Mexican rounds. The final two races of the championship, for which Britain's Jamie Chadwick is the defending champion, will take place at the Circuit of the Americas and Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez when they host F1's nineteenth and twentieth 2020 rounds respectively. It's a major deal for the W Series, not least because the former hosted 138,435 and latter 128,000 spectators during Grand Prix rounds in 2019.
With the W Series races taking place before the headline F1 events on each day, the actual spectator numbers will likely be down on those 2019 peaks - but they're still set to represent a notable increase on W Series' inaugural year. As will the viewing figures for TV coverage, because the shift onto F1 weekend rotas will move the pair of W Series rounds onto mainstream channels in several countries. It has the potential to encourage an unprecedented level of progress (in terms of reach) for the new motorsport category - not to mention the introduction of this niche series to a much wider audience. The six other rounds will support DTM weekends.
Of course, the championship's raison d'etre is to provide a platform for female drivers to progress in a male dominated sport - it being the only formula which includes gender requirements within its regulation book. 2019 champ Chadwick is certainly making the most of the opportunity; the 21-year-old also looking to enter Japan's F3-based Formula Super Lights this year alongside W Series duties, with both championships using Formula 3-spec cars powered by 270hp Alfa Romeo engines.
It's probably no coincidence that getting a female driver into the world's top racing category has also become an ambition for the sport's most famous team, Ferrari. The Ferrari Driver Academy is said to be actively seeking a female racer, with team principal Mattia Binotto stating last week that a woman "should be part" of the young driver line-up "very soon", although he refrained from mentioning any names. Chadwick's strong career performances, which also include being the youngest title winner of the British GT Championship with a top spot in 2015's GT4 class, must surely put her on the shortlist.