Former F1 driver turned commentator and pundit David Coulthard has been giving more details of why he is backing the the new W Series for female racing drivers.

Starting in 2019, the new championship will see top women racers compete in F3-spec cars for a $1.5 million prize.

Coulthard says the initiative is required if there is ever to be a realistic chance of seeing female drivers return to Formula 1. The last woman to race in F1 was Lella Lombardi in 1976.

“If you want a fundamental change in the outcome then you need a fundamental change in the process,” Coulthard told on Wednesday, using a quote from former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh.

“W Series is a fundamental change in what has clearly not worked as an opportunity to bring through female talent to the highest level you can.

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“If we don’t create a platform that may give an opportunity to accelerate that access, then nothing is going to change.”

Coulthard explained that the new championship would help single out the top female drivers, and boost their profile and recognition within the sport.

The initiative has proved divisive, with several top women drivers unhappy with the concept of the W Series.

“What a sad day for motorsport,” IndyCar driver Pippa Mann tweeted. “Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them.”

“Why waste money on a segregation? Invest in the already successful female racers that NEED the money,” offered Grand Tour test driver Abbie Eaton.

But Coulthard denied that the W Series would lead to segregation, and said he wanted to see female drivers given a chance to break through now without having to wait for a generation for things to change.

“There will be those that are negative, but show me what anyone else is doing to try to create positive change and try to create positive opportunity?” he said.

“This is a change in the process and it will create opportunity.

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“It is a more structured approach to their development, and an inspiration for girls growing up seeing someone winning and thinking” ‘I want to do that!'”

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