F1 launches all-female series "F1 Academy"
F1 will launch the F4-level all-female championship 'F1 Academy', aimed at providing female talents out of karting the platform to gain experience with a 21-race schedule and half the budget covered.
Liberty Media announced the launch of a new all-female championship that is set to kick off in 2023, named 'F1 Academy', aiming at preparing young female drivers to progress up the F1 ladder. The concept is designed not to be in direct competition with W Series, as it will be targeted mainly to younger drivers at F4 level and will be managed by FIA F2 and F3's Bruno Michel.
The new series will feature significant differences from the W Series format and business model: while Bond Muir's series ran 18 Formula 3 Regional cars centrally and was free to enter, five traditional teams will now operate 3 cars each.
There will be no more selections and free seats, as the new championship will have a traditional approach; drivers will be required a budget, with Liberty Media covering 50% of the costs. The drivers' required funding has been set at € 150,000, as F1 will cover the remaining € 150,000 for each seat.
Drivers target will also change, as the F1-supported championship will aim for younger karting or F4-level drivers. Employed cars will in fact be the Tatuus F4 car, equipped with the Autotecnica engine currently used in Italian, German, British, Brazilian and UAE Formula 4 championships. Pirelli will be the tyre manufacturer.
“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." - Stefano Domenicali, CEO of F1, stated.
"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.”
While the schedule of the F1 Academy series is yet to be announced, it is believed that it will not run on F1 weekends - except for one round - but track time will be a significant step up compared to W Series, with seven triple-header rounds and 15 test days planned.
"The goal is to fill this gap and offer them access to more track time, racing and testing", the F1 statement reads.
“I am very excited to launch this new category", Bruno Michel added. "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."
"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.”
W Series was launched as the first ever all-female single seater championship in 2019, but entered financial difficulties in 2022, at its second year on the F1 support bill.
The third on-track championship was halted with three races to go after the Singapore race and Jamie Chadwick was declared champion - for the third time in a row.
The series founded and managed by Catherine Bond-Muir is currently on hold, as it tries to secure funding to restart on-track operations. Formula 1 claims the new F1 Academy is aimed to coexist with W Series on the single-seater ladder and not in competition.
“W Series welcomes any initiative which shares our ambition to provide more opportunities for women in motorsport" - Catherine Bond Muir said in a W Series statement following the launch of F1 Academy.
"Our objective from the start has always been to increase the talent pool of women racing drivers, and the addition of the F1 Academy as a feeder to W Series and other series is a further step in inspiring the next generation to progress up the motorsport ladder."
“We are looking forward to finalising W Series’ plans for 2023 and beyond, providing exciting racing and entertaining our fans around the world", Bond Muir added.
Our mission is still clear: to offer women racing drivers a platform to race globally at the pinnacle of women’s motorsport, and in doing so continue to spread our message further and wider.”