When Formula 1 announced the new W Series exclusively for female drivers, opinions were understandably split.
Some felt it was simply continuing the gender gap in the sport, but for one Playboy model it was the break she craved.
Doreen Seidel is one of 55 drivers on the provisional list for the inaugural season but it is quite different to what she was doing a decade ago.
Seidel, now 33, made her Playboy debut in 2008 and settled into the role with ease. She quickly rose through the ranks at the magazine to become a prominent Playmate, traveling across the world with her fellow models.
She was named “Playmate of the Year” for Germany in 2009 and was taken to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles to meet Hugh Hefner and experience the famous lifestyle.
Seidel then went on tour in Mexico, Spain, Russia, Poland, Greece, Argentina, Romania and Hungary.
In 2009, she also was the “lucky charm” Playboy Bunny in front of a Playboy-branded car but then wanted to get behind the wheel rather than sit on top of the hood.
From there, her passion for racing cars grew and she now has her sights set on a world championship.
The Munich-based racer participated in her first season of races in 2011 — with the Playboy logo proudly on display — and achieved her first podium finish that year.
As the years progressed, she rose through the ranks and switched between endurance racing and sprints while also taking up instructing in 2014 to help others get a grip of the sport.
The German raced for Mercedes-Benz in 2018 but is desperate to show what she can do in the W Series next year.
Away from the track, Seidel has a diploma in business administration, loves snowboarding and is a self-confessed poor surfer but still enjoys at least attempting to catch a wave or two.
The new W series is due to get underway in May with free entry for the selected racers — chosen via a simple qualification early next year — and a $1.46 million prize fund with $485,000 going to the winner.
With six 30-minute races at former European F1 circuits and the women driving 1.8l Formula Three cars, it promises to be an exciting spectacle albeit surrounded by controversy.
Spanish racer Carmen Jorda created a backlash when she backed a female-only series, suggesting women were at a physical disadvantage and therefore could not compete with men at the very top level.
F1 racer Kevin Magnussen also supported the series, as did former British racer David Coulthard, who is on the advisory board.
“When I was karting as a boy, I raced a few girls who were talented and quick. But there weren’t many of them; a lot more boys than girls go karting and that’s a fact,” Magnussen said. “So I welcome W Series and hope it’ll help female racers progress their careers.”
But former IndyCar driver Pippa Mann felt let down by the W Series, which is introduced just a year after grid girls were axed from pit-lanes and starting grids at Grand Prix.
“What a sad day for motorsport,” Mann tweeted. “Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them.
“I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backwards take place in my life time.”
Despite the mixed reaction, Seidel is definitely excited at the possibility of competing and taking her racing to the next level.
She took to social media and said: “So excited to be part of the W Series and meet all the other qualifiers end of January for the final selection. Let’s do this.”
And after creating quite the storm as a Playmate and model, the German will be looking to do the same from the cockpit next year.