ALICE Powell is realistic about the decision to cancel the 2020 W Series season just days after Formula 1 announced its return.

Motorsport bosses announced last week they were scrapping this year’s eight-race programme due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after the all-female championship enjoyed a successful debut campaign in 2019, with Powell, from Chipping Norton, finishing third in the standings.

But with plans to support two Formula 1 races in 2021 and the series’ Esports League going live today, the 27-year-old believes the enforced break is a sensible call.

She said: “It’s very frustrating that we can’t go out and race, but I fully understand the decision.

“No-one expected this pandemic and they’ve done the right thing for the championship, its staff and drivers.

“It’s not ideal, but all of us drivers will be in the same boat so we’ll have to see what comes to fruition. It’s hard to predict at the moment.”

Powell was due to be in St Petersburg, Russia, for the season-opener on May 31, while the final two races were set to support Formula 1 Grand Prix in the United States and Mexico.

Formula 1 bosses announced an eight-race European calendar last week and Powell knows it is for the good of motorsport.

“It’s fantastic that Formula 1 have said the W Series can come back with them next year,” she said.

“Formula 1 is the main attraction, it’s like the Premier League.

“It’s the pinnacle of the sport and has the most fan attention, so I fully understand why they’re keen to get going.”

For now, the Oxford-born driver’s attention is on the W Series Esports League, which will be broadcast live on the Twitch online streaming platform every Thursday from 7pm.

All 18 drivers on the grid will virtually battle it out at some of the world’s most iconic circuits, including Monza in Italy, Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps track and Silverstone in the UK.

The curtain-raiser comes more than three weeks before Formula 1 returns and Powell hopes this will help it gain traction.

She said: “Fan engagement is really key for the W Series and there’s no other racing on TV until Formula 1, so everyone can tune in.

“No-one expected virtual racing to get as big as it has. It’s been helped by the coronavirus, but it’s here to stay.”

Powell added: “The world of sim-racing does differ quite a bit. You don’t get the same feeling of driving on the seat of your pants.

“There’s quite a lot to get used to and it can definitely help keep us sharp and competitive.

“We’ve all been practicing and having a good laugh in preparation, but we all still want to win.”