Eyes on the Future: a chat with Maya Weug
Updated: Jul 1
An outstanding talent that has been turning heads on karting tracks: Richard Mille Young Talent Academy member Maya Weug has been selected for the new FIA Rising Star programme. She's the protagonist of our newest interview.
Our newest Eyes On The Future column is dedicated to one of the top profiles in today's karting scene, a driver that has all the qualities to potentially become a shining motorsport star. We're talking about Spanish Maya Weug.
Maya is a 16-year old young lady from Benissa, a small village on the Spanish Costa Blanca, born from a Dutch father and a Belgian mother.
Despite her young age, Maya has already been turning heads on karting tracks and accumulated noteworthy racing and life experiences: during the past five years, she got to spend quite a lot of time in the home of international of karting, Italy, a place that Maya considers an essential part of her life so far.
Through the years, Maya has been able to turn her racing passion and dream into something more, capturing the expert's attention thanks to some remarkable performances at the highest level of karting which made her a recognizable name both in her home country and around Europe. At the end of 2018, she was selected in the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy and she joined the prestigious Birel Art racing team.
"In the long run, I can only see myself working in Motorsport some way or another."
"My passion started because my dad used to race karts. Since I can remember, I used to be at the kart track in Oliva, Spain, close to where I live. When I was seven years old, me and my brother got a kart for Christmas. Since then, I’ve always loved karting." - she told us.
"I’m proud of the many goals that I have achieved so far, but especially winning the WSK Final Cup was a great feeling. That whole year was very special to me, as it was my first year racing abroad and we managed to fight at the front with a small team against all the bigger teams. Also being the first woman to win the Copa de Campeones was really important to me, and being vice-Spanish champion in 2015 was great."
Before being selected to be a member of the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy, Weug had to pass a series of tests at the Italian world-famous South Garda karting track, where she unquestionably proved her talent and convinced the decision-makers.
"The weekend of the selection started off in the BirelArt factory in Lissone, where we did seat fitting. The next day we went to South Garda Karting where we did several sessions, and we all drove with the same setup and engine to make it as fair as possible."
"At the end of the day, the two girls who won were announced. In OK Junior it was Julia Ayoub, and in OK I was selected. It was very emotional to be selected and to get this amazing opportunity. It´s one of those moments I will always remember."
"When I started with BirelArt it was my first year in OK so I had to adapt my driving style and braking technique to the OK engine. But apart from that, there are a lot of small details that all make a big difference on track. The atmosphere is really good, very professional, and at the same time everyone has been very friendly and supportive to us. We were also lucky to have racers like Marijn Kremers that helped a lot with coaching me and Julia."
As a Richard Mille Young Talent Academy driver, at the end of the 2019 Maya had the opportunity to drive a Formula 4 car, which was another big step closer the big dream.
"I was very happy to be selected for the F4 shootout. The weekend in Le Mans was
very tough because of the high level of drivers and, on top of that, it was freezing all day long and there was a lot of fog, so we couldn’t do as many sessions as planned. However I learned a lot that weekend and enjoyed driving the F4 in such a historical track."
Earlier this week, it was announced that Maya will be one of the selected ladies for the new FIA Rising Stars programme created by FIA Women In Motorsport with the support of Ferrari Driver Academy.
"The Rising Stars program that the FIA Women in Motorsport commission have developed together with the Ferrari Driver Academy is a unique opportunity for a girl to make her way from karting to single seaters. At the same time it promotes gender equality in motorsport and inspires young girls to get into racing."
"The program starts with a shootout at the Paul Ricard Circuit with the Winfield Racing School, then there will be a training camp also at Paul Ricard with F4. The best four girls will have a training camp at Maranello with the Ferrari Driver Academy and at the end of 2020, one girl will win a contract with Ferrari."
"I'm very happy with the opportunity they have given me and I will work really hard to make it as far as possible and make it one step closer to my dream."
All those experiences allowed the Spanish lady to compete on some of the best European circuits and we asked her about her favourite one so far.
"I love Adria because it’s a nice track where there are many overtaking possibilities, and it has a special feeling to me because that’s where I won the WSK Final Cup. I also like PFI a lot because it’s a very technical track."
During her journey, Maya had the chance to meet some of the top racing drivers in the world, as some of them inevitably became inspiring figures in her quest to the top.
"I have been really lucky to be around a lot of inspiring people. Last year I tested at Lonato and Charles Leclerc was with us in KZ. That was very special, because I am a really big fan of his."
"At the end of my first year doing international races I was in the team with Matteo Viganò, we both had a very good year that year, it helped me a lot to have such a quick team mate.
In the last years in Birel Art both Marijn Kremers and Ricky Longhi are a real inspiration. Very hard working, very fast and really nice people."
To crown such prestigious successes so far, Maya Weug has been presented with the Women in Motorsport award at the FIA Karting Prize Giving ceremony .
"For me it was a very special evening, being the first time going to the FIA Karting prize giving. That evening the ceremony was in the centre of Paris. I have been working very hard for my dreams and for that to be recognised by the FIA Women in Motorsport was very special to me."
From time to time, we may also see Maya Weug in a coaching role - when she helps her little brother in his first footsteps into karting.
"He likes karting and joining me on track, but he still isn’t as competitive and passionate as I am about racing. He just likes to go out and have some fun."
As we previously had chats with other Spanish ladies making their way into international karting, we asked Maya what's the secret behind what looks like a "Spanish new wave" that has seen the rise of competitive young female drivers in recent times.
"There is a big passion for motorsport in Spain. Also worldwide there is a lot more awareness due to programs like Girls on Track by the FIA. Marta García and I grew up at the same track in Oliva (Spain), and we were trained by the same coach, Alex Vives. There is always a very good atmosphere at our track and we were brought up with this passion. Now we are both competing at a high level."
"Marta was an inspiration for a lot of girls that wanted to race, especially in Spain, I think.
Nerea Marti started a bit later, but has done really well and is now in the W Series together with Belen Garcia and Marta."
"There are some really talented young girls coming from Spain as well, Luna Fluxa will be one to watch for sure!"
Maya has a strong personality behind the steering wheel, as well as in her everyday teenager life - we asked her to describe herself outside of the racetracks.
"Well, I love all sports and I like to be active. I would say I have a very competitive character, even at school."
It's peculiar to learn about her passions besides motorsport; a very distinctive trait of such ambitious and focused athletes which proves this predestined 16-year old determination to work hard for her dreams:
"To be honest, my whole life has been focused on motorsport. I love staying fit and healthy and working out and when I am home I spend a lot of time on the sim. But I also like to hang out with my brothers, my family and my friends."
These difficult months marked by the pandemic have changed the everyday lives of people all around the world. As we all try to slowly come back to normality, Maya is even more ready to resume her plans and commit to a 2020 racing program.
"My racing program for this year will be racing the WSK Euro Series, the RGMMC Champions Of The Future, and the FIA European and World Championship, with the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy."
Finally, we can't but finish our interview with our usual yet essential question: what's Maya's big vision for her future?
"My goal is to become a professional racing driver - of course F1 would be a dream come true. But in the long run I can only see myself working in Motorsport some way or another."
We're sure that with her perseverance, her immense love for what she does and with her brilliant talent, no goals will be impossible to achieve for young women like Maya Weug.
"I have been working very hard for my dreams and for that to be recognised by the FIA Women in Motorsport was very special to me".