The names of 18 drivers who will compete in the inaugural W Series season in 2019 has been revealed after a five-day selection programme.

The grid was trimmed down to 28 drivers, following the initial selection programme in Mesk, Austria in January. Two months down, the whole gang got together for their final selection in Spain’s Circuito De Almeria last week for a five-day programme.

The days were divided with track time for all the 28 drivers in the new Tatuus F318 F3 car as HitechGP worked with them to impart as much knowledge for them to succeed in the future. The organisers, meanwhile, revealed the five colours of the cars.

They also announced a new partnership with PUMA Motorsport on the final day of running. Along with the HitechGP team, the five-day programme also had people from Hinsta Performance, Alex Wurz, David Coulthard and Dave Ryan to help the drivers.

The female races received enough time on track and also off it with proper coaching – whether for physical need or mental ahead of the qualifiers on Wednesday. Following the day’s running, the final list of 18 has been revealed on Thursday with four reserves.

In fact, the series organisers already informed the 12 sure drivers who made the cut on Wednesday morning itself, while the rest were given extra time to impress with the remaining six plus four reserves then chosen.

The final 18 goes:

Jamie Chadwick, UK

Sabre Cook, USA

Marta Garcia, Spain

Megan Gilkes, Canada

Esmee Hawkey, UK

Jessica Hawkins, UK

Shea Holbrook, USA

Emma Kimilainen, Finland

Miki Koyama, Japan

Sarah Moore, UK

Tasmin Pepper, South Africa

Vicky Piria, Italy

Alice Powell, UK

Gosia Rdest, Poland

Naomi Schiff, Belgium

Beitske Visser, Netherlands

Fabienne Wohlwend, Liechtenstein

Caitlin Wood, Australia

Meanwhile the four reserves are:

Sarah Bovy, Belgium

Vivien Keszthelyi, Hungary

Stephane Kox, Netherlands

Francesca Linossi, Italy

Catherine Bond Muir, W Series CEO said: “After four intensive days’ testing in Almeria, finishing yesterday, and four equally rigorous days’ trials in Melk in January, as you can imagine we’d amassed a huge amount of data.

“So our judges, led by Dave Ryan, then crunched that data in order to determine who would be the 18 drivers to contest the first ever single-seater racing series for female drivers: W Series.

“To those drivers who didn’t make it through, I offer my commiserations, of course, but I also say ‘well done’. All our drivers worked diligently, studied hard, and drove well, including those who didn’t make it through.

“To the 18 drivers who did make it through, I say ‘big congrats and very well done’. But I also want to mention our four reserve drivers, who didn’t quite make the final 18 but all impressed our judges.

“They’ll be disappointed, inevitably, but they’re still part of the W Series family. So that’s it then. Our driver selection programme is complete. Let’s go racing!” Dave Ryan, W Series Racing Director added:

“We’re at the end of the driver selection process and it’s been tough on a few of the women, but to be honest the ones that have gone through have done a really good job over the four days in Almeria.

“That’s the end of one part and the start of another. We’re all happy, although obviously a couple of the women are disappointed, but that’s sadly how it is and they have just got to keep trying.”

Coulthard said: “This has been a more difficult selection process than we ever could have dreamt of in terms of how close it has been across the field. The rate of learning has been really impressive to see, and that’s absolutely what we need to see in those who have relatively little experience in single-seaters, but have got natural speed.

“The emotion attached to it has got nothing whatever to do with whether they’re male or female. It’s just that, having had the pleasure of being a professional driver, I know how privileged that is, and I sincerely want all of them who have gone through this process to have professional racing careers at whatever level their talent will allow them to go to.

“This represents today one big step closer to them realising that dream, and I think everyone at W Series can be proud of their contribution to putting these racers on track, who just happen to be women.”