Red Bull and Mercedes team principals Christian Horner and Toto Wolff have given their full support to the F1 Academy, which aims to develop and prepare young female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition, including in the W series. F3, F2 and F1.
The F1 Academy will start in 2023 and will consist of five teams, led by strong teams and experienced F2 and F3 teams, each entering 3 cars to form a 15-car grid. The first season included seven events of 3 races each, for a total of 21 races and fifteen days of official testing.
The vehicle used for the series will be the Tatuus T421 chassis. Autotecnica will supply the 165 hp turbo engine, while Pirelli, the global partner of Formula 1, will supply the tires, as in F3, F2 and F1. The series will be managed by Bruno Michel (CEO of Formula Motorsport Limited) who has the knowledge and experience to successfully run the junior classes on a budget and to support driver development.
Formula 1 will subsidize each car with a budget of €150,000 (€2.25 million in total), a fraction of the usual costs in comparable series. The rest of the budget will be provided by the teams.
Expressing his opinion about this new series created by Formula 1, the head of the Red Bull team said: “I think it’s a good thing that F1 is getting involved.” Christian Horner believes.
“It’s great to see more and more women coming into the sport as drivers, designers and at all levels…we’re now seeing more women in the paddock in both technical roles and operations.”
“It’s all about getting in, and I think that’s great. I think there is also interest from young people, with an audience of young women watching Formula 1 right now. It will encourage more people, girls to want to do karting locally, so more drivers, more engineers will come.”
On Mercedes’ side, the German manufacturer’s team principal Toto Wolff echoed his Red Bull counterpart: “The initiative launched by Formula 1 is very good.” added the Austrian.
“It’s a big undertaking with small cars and lots of testing. I hope F1 can identify young women and junior drivers in karting because there are good ones [des pilotes] also in the W series [la catégorie 100% féminine de la FIA]who can participate, get a lot of track time, then eventually the best will move on to F4 and F3.”
“We can only bring a woman into Formula 1 if we strengthen the base, but it has to be competitive. I think this will be the most important factor.”
Toto Wolff’s wife Susie Wolff remains the last woman to compete in a Formula 1 race weekend. The Briton drove for Williams in the first free practice session of the 2014 British Grand Prix.
Giving women more chances to enter F1
The F1 Academy was created to maximize the opportunities and potential of young female drivers to reach the highest level of motorsport. It will give young talent currently in karting or other smaller categories access to the fundamental level of experience necessary before competing in F3 and joining the pyramid leading to Formula 1.
An assessment of the barriers young female drivers face in entering the F1 pyramid found that they do not have the same experience as their male counterparts of the same age.
The aim of the academy is therefore to fill this gap and offer them access to more track time, competitions and testing. They will also develop by working with professional teams renowned in motorsport to train young drivers and help them develop essential technical, physical and mental training.