All Scores

Powell and Chadwick neck-and-neck as W Series joins Formula 1 in Texas

A scheduled W Series race in Singapore this weekend is in doubt. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Wrapping up its second year on track (its 2020 season having been cancelled due to Covid-19), the W Series is headed to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on October 23-24 for a double-header race event. Best of all, the two preseason favorites, Alice Powell and Jamie Chadwick, are tied in points for the championship. 

Below is a primer on the W Series, an overview on how it’s breaking ground for women in racing, and what to expect in this suspense-filled season finale.

Why the W Series?

Motorsport is one of the hardest sporting arenas to break into if one’s path isn’t well paved by family legacy and financial backing. It has been dubbed by critics as the “billionaires boy’s club,” which partially explains what has made Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career so compelling. The irrefutable GOAT of F1, and the only Black F1 driver ever, Hamilton broke into the sport as an outsider while his father worked multiple jobs and provided the mechanical work to support his son’s natural gift for racing. 

The number of women who’ve successfully broken into the ranks is similarly few and far between. Out of 900+ Formula 1 drivers who’ve ever lined up on the grid for a Grand Prix event, only two of them have been women (Maria Teresa de Filippis in 1958 and Lella Lombardi in 1975 and 1976). For Catherine Bond Muir, a British lawyer and corporate financial advisor, those numbers were so bleak, she felt compelled to take matters into her own hands by founding the W Series, an international all-female driver racing league.

Some don’t like the idea of a segregated series for women and believe efforts should be focused on bringing more women up through the standard pathways of racing. Pippa Mann, a British IndyCar race driver, has argued, “We [women] grew up dreaming of winning races, and winning championships, against everyone—the same as every male racer does. We did not grow up dreaming of being segregated, and winning the girl’s only cup.”

For Bond Muir, the fact that the number of women in single-seater motor-racing series globally was on a downward trend convinced her that the existing pathways for women weren’t working. In a sport where individual sponsorship is fundamental, there is a dismal number of companies willing to spend big money on female drivers who are as yet unproven against male drivers on the biggest stage. And without preemptive funding, the opportunity to go out and prove themselves doesn’t exist for these drivers. 

This is where the W Series comes in. With a structure that covers all expenses for drivers, the financial barriers into the sport are made null and void, allowing the W Series to showcase the best female drivers from all over the globe, racing some of the fastest machines on the most iconic racetracks.

The W Series Structure

Unlike Formula 1, where a driver’s individual financial sponsorships are a major factor in being selected for one of the coveted 20 driver seats, the athletes in the W Series are selected solely on their racing ability. Applicants are put through rigorous on-track testing, simulator assessments, technical engineering and fitness evaluations, and then the top 18 make the cut. 

Another critical difference from F1 is that every driver in the W Series competes in an identical race car (the Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 car). In F1, there are certain parameters for the vehicles, but the ten teams are allowed to customize much of the car, which results in the wealthiest teams dominating for years on end as they pour money into either buying or creating the latest and greatest technology.

During this second season of the W series, even though they are in identical vehicles, the drivers are divided into nine teams sponsored by partner companies. A team championship based on overall points accumulated by each team’s two drivers will be debuted in 2022. Currently, there is a $1.5 million allotment for the individual driver championship. The overall winner will be awarded $500K with the remainder trickling down from second to eighteenth place. 

Another new aspect for this 2021 season is that all eight races are being held alongside Formula 1 Grand Prix events, giving these women the grandest of stages to showcase their abilities.  

The 2021 W Series Championship

With six of eight total races completed, the top two drivers, Alice Powell and Jamie Chadwick, are deadlocked in points at 109 apiece (a 1st place finish is worth 25 points, 2nd gets 18, 3rd gets 15, and so on). The two Brits have been neck and neck throughout the series, trading the top podium back and forth with only one other driver, Emma Kimilainen of Finland, snatching a single race win in between. 

Twenty-four-year-old Chadwick is the reigning W Series champion from 2019 and has been a steadily rising star, coming up through karting and junior racing programs in the UK and then moving on the Formula 3 series in both her home country and Asia. During the inaugural W Series season, she was also named a Williams development driver for the F1 team.

Powell’s path to competitive racing has been a bit more stop and go depending on when funding has been available. After several years competing in Formula Renault series in the UK and abroad, Powell (28) had been out of competitive racing since 2015 and was doing building renovation work for her father when the W Series opportunity arose. 

“Racing has been the sport of privileged billionaires for years and it’s hard for women to get sponsorship. Despite writing hundreds of letters to businesses and race teams my funding dried up in 2015,” she once vented. “Then W Series came along and changed the game. I had just been unblocking a urinal when I got the call.”

With three 1st-place finishes to Chadwick’s two, Powell currently has the upper hand to edge out Chadwick for the overall title if things remain equal after the final two races. With 50 first place points up for grabs between the final two races, Kimilainen is also still within striking distance of a come from behind victory. And in racing it doesn’t take much—a tire puncture, engine issue, rainy weather—to drastically change the fate of title contenders.

For Bond Muir, she couldn’t have hoped for more as her brainchild heads into a suspenseful finish of its sophomore season: back-to-back races at the Circuit of the Americas to determine who walks away the champion. 

“If you had told me then that we would stage two races on the same weekend at one of F1’s flagship events in just our second season, I would have pinched myself,” Bond Muir said

“It will be a fitting way to end our breathless and action-packed eight-race season and promises to be a very special weekend as we celebrate everything that W Series stands for and the giant strides we have made since launching three years ago.”

2023 MVP Breanna Stewart Drops 31 Points in Liberty’s Huge Win Over Fever

breanna stewart and jonquel jones of the new york liberty celebrate win over indiana fever
Stewie and the Liberty dominated the court throughout Thursday's Fever home opener. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

WNBA Commissioner Admits to ‘Faulty’ Charter Rollout

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert at 2024 wnba draft
Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft in New York. (Cora Veltman/Sportico via Getty Images)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert admitted to a "faulty rollout" of the new charter travel initiative on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ahead of Tuesday's season opener, it was announced that the only teams flying private this week would be Indiana and Minnesota. The announcement came mere days after the league made a new charter flight program for all WNBA teams public. At the time, they said it would be implemented "as soon as we have the planes."

But as two teams out of 12 chartered to their first games of the season, others like the Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky were forced to fly commercial.

A town hall meeting between Engelbert and the players was held in response to the confusion. Everything from the league's new media rights deal to private travel was covered in the meeting, with players submitting their questions ahead of time. Sky center Elizabeth Williams told Sun-Times reporter Annie Costabile afterwards that cross-country flights were prioritized.

"Flights that are across the country like [the Lynx] going to Seattle, crossing multiple time zones, or flights that usually require a connection, those were the priorities," Williams said. "That’s why New York didn’t go to DC with a charter, but Minny goes to Seattle."

What’s unclear under that metric is that the Atlanta Dream played the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, which could technically be classified as a cross-country flight. 

On Tuesday, rookie forward Angel Reese shared a photo on her Instagram story lamenting the league's use of commercial flights.

"Just praying that this is one of the last commercial flights the Sky has to fly," Reese posted. The team still has at least three commercial flights awaiting them in the near future.

"Obviously, I think all teams should be able to get chartered," Reese told the Sun-Times. "But I know moving forward... going in the right direction, being able to have some teams [chartering] is cool. Within the next weeks, everybody will be flying charter, which will be really good."

On Thursday, Lindsay Schnell of USAToday Sports confirmed that the league intends to have all teams on charter flights by May 21st.

Brazil Wins Bid for 2027 Women’s World Cup Host

fifa womens world cup trophy on display
The FIFA Women's World Cup trophy on display in Bangkok after Brazil was announced as the 2027 host country. (Thananuwat Srirasant - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Brazil has been named the host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup, with FIFA announced early Friday. 

The decision came after a vote at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, with Brazil earning 119 votes to the joint European bid’s 78. 

This will be Brazil’s first time hosting the Women’s World Cup, with the country having hosted the men’s World Cup twice before in 1950 and 2014. It will also be the first Women’s World Cup held in South America. The tournament will follow the same 32-team format as the 2023 WWC in Australia and New Zealand.

Brazil winning the bid was not entirely surprising after FIFA issued a report just last week, stating that the Brazilian bid had pulled ahead as host following technical inspection. After evaluation, Brazil was given a score of 4.0 out of 5, compared to the 3.7 awarded to the Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Brazil ranked higher in a number of key areas, including stadiums, accommodations, fan zones, and transport infrastructure. Though considered to be a frontrunner, the US and Mexico withdrew their joint bid prior to the technical inspection period, saying they would instead focus their efforts on 2031.

On Friday, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues called it a "victory." 

"We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women's soccer and for women," he told reporters. "You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women."

"We are working on a transformation, not only for the country but for the continent," added bid team operational manager Valesca Araujo.

Brazil intends to use 10 of the venues utilized at the 2014 men’s World Cup, including holding the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 25th. The CBF's proposal outlines that the 2027 tournament run from June 24th through the end of July. Last summer’s World Cup began at the end of July and concluded on August 19th.

Another notable element of Brazil's newly unveiled plan to grow of the women’s game is that "all [men’s] clubs wishing to take part in high-level national and continental competitions must now provide a structure for a women’s team." While the definition of "structure" was not specifically identified, the country has set targets with CONMEBOL to help increase the number of women’s club teams in the country.

In last week's inspection findings, FIFA noted that selecting Brazil as the next WWC host could "have a tremendous impact on women's football in the region."

Chelsea Eyes Weekend Finale With WSL Title in Sight

chelsea players celebrate win against tottenham in the wsl
Chelsea beat Tottenham on Wednesday, moving to the top of the table in an effort to win departing coach Emma Hayes some silverware. (John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Chelsea did what they needed to do on Wednesday in order to make Saturday's slate of season-ending WSL fixtures interesting: Beat Tottenham.

The Blues are now number one in the league, with an edge over Manchester City on goal differential thanks to an eight-goal outing against Bristol City last week. 

Yesterday's result tees up a league finale for the books as Chelsea looks to send coach Emma Hayes off with another trophy to add to her cabinet. The Blues will play FA Cup winner Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, while City is away at Aston Villa.

"We will be leaving nothing on the pitch, we will be giving everything and no matter what the result is," Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert said after Wednesday's win. "At least we can look each other in the eye and say we gave everything."

It makes for a thrilling end to Chelsea's Emma Hayes era, as the decorated WSL coach will take over the USWNT in June. And it comes after Hayes all but conceded the title race early this month after Chelsea fell to Liverpool 4-3.

"I think the title is done," Hayes said at the time. "Of course, mathematically, it's not, but I think the title is done. Our job between now and the end of the season is to keep pushing until the end, but I think it will be very difficult.

"We will never give up. But the title is far from us; it's not in our hands. I think City are deserving, their consistency has put them in that position. Of course, we will go to the end, but I don't think the title will be going to us this year."

Be it mind games or Hayes truly thinking her team was that far off, her words lit something in Chelsea. Their following two performances showed the team’s determination to have a shot at some silverware.

As for Saturday's schedule, Hayes believes her team is facing the "tougher of the two games."

"It's a fitting finale for me, being my final game," she told BBC Sport. "As I said to the players if someone gives you a second chance in life, make sure you don't need a third one. We're in the position we want to be in, and we'll give it everything on Saturday no matter what."

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.