Formula 1 has announced the launch of the F1 Academy, an all-female driver category which
aims to develop and prepare young female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition including W Series, Formula 3, Formula 2 and Formula 1.
F1 Academy will begin racing in 2023 and will consist of five teams, which will be run by strong and
experienced current F2 and F3 teams, each entering 3 cars to make up a 15-car grid. The inaugural season will comprise seven events of 3 races each, amounting to a total of 21 races, plus fifteen days of official testing. The 2023 calendar will be revealed in due course and is likely to include one Formula 1 event weekend.
The car used for the series will be a Tatuus T421 chassis. The turbo charged engine, delivering 165
horsepower, will be supplied by Autotecnica, and Formula 1’s Global Partner, Pirelli, will provide the tyres, as they already do in F3, F2 and F1. The series will be managed by Bruno Michel (CEO of Formula Motorsport Limited), who has the knowledge and experience of running successful junior categories for a reasonable budget and helping drivers to develop.
Most of the time, finding adequate funding for racing has been very challenging for female drivers.
Therefore, Formula 1 will subsidise each car with a budget of €150,000 (€2.25m in total) and will require the drivers to cover the same amount, which represents a fraction of the usual costs in a comparable series. The teams will provide the rest of the budget.
The F1 Academy has been created to maximise the opportunity and potential of young female drivers to
reach the highest level in motorsport. It will provide young talent currently in go-karting or other junior categories with access to the fundamental level of experience needed before racing in F3 and joining the pyramid to Formula 1.
During assessments of 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.
The goal is to fill this gap and offer them access to more track time, racing and testing. They 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 preparations.
Formula 1 wants 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.
Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, said: “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. That is why I am delighted to announce the F1 Academy that will give young female drivers the best chance to fulfil their ambitions through a comprehensive programme 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.”
Ellen Jones, Head of Sustainability at Formula 1, said: “In 2019 we launched our sustainability strategy which included the commitment to build a more diverse and inclusive sport by removing barriers, nurturing talent, and inspiring change. Over the past few years, we have been making progress within our own operations and in the classroom through programmes such as internships and F1 Engineering Scholarships. Today’s announcement marks the next step in inspiring talent behind the visor to help ensure young female drivers get the very best opportunity to begin their professional motorsport career and climb the ladder to the top.”
Bruno Michel, General Manager of the F1 Academy, said: “I am very excited to launch this new category. 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.”