Starting in 2023, Formula 1 is set to launch an all-female driver category, the F1 Academy, to develop and prepare young female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition – including W Series, Formula 1, Formula 2, and Formula 3.
The series will consist of five teams run by current F2 and F3 teams, each entering three cars to make up a 15-car grid. The first season will include seven events with three races each – amounting to a total of 21 races – plus 15 days of official testing, with the 2023 calendar set to be released in due course.
The drivers will be getting behind the wheel of Tatuus T421 chassis, with Autotecnica supplying turbocharged engines that will deliver 165 horsepower, while Formula 1’s Global Partner Pirelli will provide the tires.
The series – which will be managed by the CEO of Formula Motorsport Limited Bruno Michel – will see Formula 1 subsidize the cost of each car with a budget of €150,000, while the drivers cover the same amount of costs – a fraction of the usual costs in comparable series – with the teams covering the rest of the budget.
The aim of the series is to maximize the opportunity and potential of young female drivers to reach the highest level in motorsport and to provide young talent currently in go-karting or other junior categories with access to the fundamental level of experience needed before going racing in F3 and joining the pyramid to Formula 1.
After assessing the barriers young female drivers face with entering the F1 pyramid, it became clear that they do not have the same amount of experience as their male counterparts at the same age.
Thus the goal of the F1 Academy is to fill this gap and offer female drivers access to more track time, racing and testing. The racers will also grow by working with professional teams, who are renowned in motorsport for nurturing young drivers, and who will help them develop the crucial technical, physical, and mental preparation skills needed for elite competition.
Formula 1’s intentions are to ensure aspiring female drivers have the best opportunities to reach their potential, with an important first step of getting into Formula 3 and progressing through the ranks.
The W Series continues to provide a great platform for drivers and the F1 Academy is intended to add an extra route for the next generation of young female drivers, who will race in an environment that will allow them to gain fundamental experience thanks to a great amount of track time.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and achieve their potential and Formula 1 wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to create greater diversity and routes into this incredible sport,” said Formula 1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali.
“That is why I am delighted to announce the F1 Academy that will give young female drivers the best chance to fulfill their ambitions through a comprehensive program that supports their racing careers and gives them everything they need to move into F3 and hopefully to F2 and then the pinnacle of Formula 1. The more opportunity there is the better and this is designed to provide another route for the drivers to succeed.”
ormula 1’s Head of Sustainability Ellen Jones added: “In 2019 we launched our sustainability and diversity & inclusion strategy and made a commitment to build a more diverse and inclusive sport, breaking down the stereotypes associated with a career in motorsports and encouraging people from all backgrounds to get involved.
“Over the past few years, we have been making strong progress on these important issues within our own business and across the sport. Today’s announcement is a very important commitment that will ensure young female drivers get the very best opportunity to begin their professional motorsport career and climb the ladder to the top by developing their skills and experience in the right way and with the right level of support.”
“I am very excited to launch this new category,” said Manager of the F1 Academy Bruno Michel. “Diversity is extremely important in motorsport, and with the F1 Academy we will prove that female drivers have what it takes to compete at high levels. I am absolutely convinced that if young women are given the same amount of experience as any other driver, they can successfully make their way through the pyramid.
“Our goal is to see female drivers on the F3 grid in the next two to three years, and for them to quickly challenge for points and podiums. The aim is to increase the field in the near future, because we hope that this category will inspire more young girls to compete in motorsport at the highest of levels.”