To encourage more women to pursue careers in motorsport, Formula 1 has created an all-female series.
It will be called the F1 Academy and feature seven events, each of which will have three races. There will be five teams, each of which will field three cars.
The series provides women drivers with the “best chance to fulfil their ambitions,” according to F1 president Stefano Domenicali.
Each car will receive a €150,000 (£131,000) subsidy from F1. In order to stay competitive, drivers will need to add the same amount once more.
While F1 has not yet released a schedule, they did say that one of the races would most likely be held at a grand Prix.
Cars in this series will be identical to those used in Formula 4, another series designed for novice racers.
Domenicali continued, “Formula 1 wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to create greater diversity and routes into this incredible sport. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and achieve their potential.”
For him, winning the championship meant “a full-fledged plan designed to boost their racing careers to the next level, from F3 all the way up to, hopefully, F2 and the top of Formula 1.
“The more options there are, the better, and this is meant to give the drivers yet another way to achieve their goals.”
The series was envisioned as “an extra route for the next generation of young female drivers,” according to the F1 statement.
According to the expanded statement: “During analyses of the challenges young women face in breaking into the F1 driver ranks, it became evident that they lacked the experience of their male counterparts at a similar age.
“The plan is to close the gap and provide them with more racing, testing, and track time opportunities.
Working with professional teams will also help them develop, as these groups are well-known in motorsport for their dedication to training the next generation of drivers.
While the W Series, a women-only series that began in 2019, had to end its inaugural season two races early due to financial difficulties, F1 was briefed that this new championship would complement the W Series.
One of W Series’ competitors, Jessica Hawkins, driver ambassador for the Aston Martin F1 team, said she thought the two series could coexist if they were able to raise the money to continue into 2023.
Hawkins said she was “excited” for the new series and added: “More women in motorsport will help fix the problem of a lack of women, so any championship that encourages women to participate is a good thing.
“I’d like to think it could complement W Series, too. Because that’s not what we’re fighting for, the thought of them competing horrifies me.
“It’s not about who has the most titles; it’s about how well we work together to reach our common goal.”
More “grassroots-level” opportunities are needed, she said.
However, she cautioned that the industry’s established women drivers should not be overlooked, drawing parallels between them and Aston Martin’s 2023 signing, two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso.
We just signed a 41-year-old who is still performing at a high level,” Hawkins said. “Why are we trying to find a kid? Why not put what we have now to use in moving that forward?
“The issue of a female driver in Formula One can be addressed later when more women are involved in the sport.
“More options are available in the pot, less will be lost, and progress can be made.
“Neither Formula One racing nor an F4 championship will end the world, in my opinion. That’s great news, and I’m looking forward to it, but let’s not forget about the people who have succeeded thus far. If you’re a little bit older, it’s not too late.”