FIA Girls On Track - Rising Stars senior finalists nominated for FDA Scouting Camp
Following the final two days at Franciacorta, the four Senior finalists of the fourth FIA Girls On Track - Rising Stars programme have been announced: here are the four young talents that will compete at the FDA Scouting Camp in November for a potential spot in the Ferrari Driver Academy.
Following the nominations of the 4 Junior finalists, the selection stages of the 2023 FIA Girls On Track - Rising Stars program continued with two further days of testing in F4 machinery for the 8 Senior drivers: Joanne Ciconte, Domenika Arellano, Anniken Lindfjord, Meri Levula, Alba Hurup Larsen, Mathilda Paatz, Jure Portelli and Milla Sjöstrand - all between 14 and 16 and years of age - competed for the four spots in the final stage at Maranello, where one driver will potentially be selected to join the prestigious Ferrari Driver Academy.
The eight drivers were assessed via on track tests at Franciacorta, Italy, where they got up to speed with the Tatuus Formula 4 cars and had to show their quick adaptability, as the programme is focused on the progression from karting to the entry level of single seater racing.
On track speed, though, was not the only skill that the jury - chaired by former racing driver and Iron Dames detection Manager Cathy Muller, as well as representatives of Ferrari Driver Academy - would analyse: crucial elements of the assessment were physical training, media interaction, personal presentation, safety and the value of team/driver relationships and tyre management - which was also the focus on a workshop by Girls On Track partner Pirelli, aimed at highlighting the importance of tyre management.
The drivers progressed throughout the programme on and off the track and, on Thursday evening, the jury selected the four young talents that would go ahead to the next stage:
Joanne Ciconte (14, from Australia), Domenika Arellano (14, from Ecuador),Alba Hurup Larsen (14, from Denmark) and Mathilda Paatz (15, from Germany) emerged as the four finalists.
Ciconte, Arellano, Hurup Larsen and Paatz all have backgrounds in high level karting and will now have a couple of months to prepare for the FDA Scouting Camp in Maranello, where they will be put to the test once again by the Ferrari management.
“After the junior drivers, the senior took their turn to demonstrate their driving skills and potential at Franciacorta", explained Deborah Mayer, FIA Women In Motorsport Commission President and Iron Dames founder. "Under the supervision of ACI Scuola Federale, they were also able to benefit from two days of high-speed learning, discovering the performance of Formula 4 cars and having a concrete overview of the core aspects of becoming a professional driver."
"Whatever the results today, I am pleased and impressed by the progress achieved by these young girls in just a few days", Mayer continued. "It's a very encouraging sign for the next stage of their development, and I hope from the bottom of my heart that our programme has given each of them extra determination and a new sense of purpose."
"Alba, Joanne, Domenika and Mathilda left Franciacorta with their qualification for the final at the Ferrari Driver Academy. I warmly congratulate the finalists and wish them the best of luck for this golden opportunity towards the career of their dreams."
In just two seasons of karting competitions, Alba Hurup Larsen has really impressed in both the Danish and Swedish karting championship, before she recently stepped up to the international scene. Domenika Arellano makes it to the final at her second participation; she has proudly represented Ecuador at the South American Karting Championship finals, as well as entered the IAME X30 series. Joanna Ciconte started racing at 9 and has competed in the Cadet class in the Australian Karting Association before moving up to the Junior class in 2022. She currently competes in the Australian Karting Championship in the KA3 Junior light category. Also at her second participation to the Girls On Track programme, Mathilda Paatz is a familiar face of European karting competitions. The German driver has recently contested the OK Senior category at FIA European and World championship level.
One of them will have the chance to succeed Maya Weug, Laura Camps Torras and Aurelia Nobels, the previous winners of the programme. Weug is currently a point scorer in Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, while Nobels - who set the reference times for this year's candidates - is contesting her first season in Italian F4 under the banner of Prema/Iron Dames.
The winner of the fourth and final edition will be supported by Iron Dames/FDA with the aim to prepare for a racing season in Formula 4 - as the programme aims to carry momentum from the highly positive impact that the first three editions had on the movement.