Lifting the next generation: Alice Powell joins Alpine Academy in talent scouting role
In a crucial development for young women in motor racing, Alice Powell is teaming up with Alpine F1 Team to lift up the next generation of talents - especially female - as she takes on the role of Talent Identification & Development Mentor for the Alpine Academy and Affiliate programme.
Equally talented behind the wheel as much as a driver coach, W Series racing star Alice Powell is taking her career to the next step by joining forces with Alpine F1 Team, as she will take on the role of Talent Identification & Development Mentor for the F1 team young driver academy. It feels the most natural evolution to her current job as a racing instructor and driver coach, as Alice Powell – one of Britain's most experienced and successful female drivers – has been mentoring drivers like Abbi Pulling and Ella Stevens from karting up to single-seaters. Her relationship with Pulling, with whom Powell started working in 2020, in her first season of British F4, has evolved into something so powerful that it felt like Powell had taken on her whole generation's responsibilities to support and lift up the next generation for a greater goal.
And now, this stunning effort is being recognized by none other than a Formula 1 Team, which is giving Powell the tools to mark the routes for the champions of the future, especially female. Alongside her racing commitments in W Series - where she is returning after two brilliant seasons and a runner-up spot in 2021 – Alice Powell will have to identify and assess the potential new candidates for the Alpine Academy and Affiliate Programme. Once accepted into the programmes, the young racers – especially female – will have the invaluable opportunity of relying on Powell's experience in the industry, as the 29-year-old from Chipping Norton will guide them through their racing and fitness schedules, advising them through their career paths. Powell's role will in fact be primarily scouting young female talents across all junior series and analysing how to integrate them into the Academy or Affiliate programme, as the team – which is based in Enstone, less than five miles away from Powell's hometown – stated. “I’m delighted to join the team", said Powell. "More and more opportunities for women within motorsport are emerging now, but budding drivers often lack guidance and experience in the early days of their career." "The Alpine Academy is an extremely useful stepping stone for all drivers. It provides a sense of credibility and has a defined place on the motorsport ladder. Mentoring is very important. We need to change the mindset of young women that these opportunities do exist, but to also give them the resilience to reach out and grab these opportunities with both hands.” Powell will continue to work with Pulling, who joined the Alpine Affiliate programme in March, becoming the first woman supported by the team and the third female racer currently affiliated with a F1 team. On the occasion of the last Saudi F1 GP, Pulling made history as she – alongside with Saudi advocate for women in motorsport Aseel Al Hamad - became the first woman to drive a F1 car on Saudi soil. The demo run was also Pulling's first time at the wheel of F1 machinery. "I’m really happy to be working closely with Alice", added Pulling. "I’ve found the Affiliate programme already to be very beneficial. I’ve recently had my first drive in a Formula 1 car and enjoyed some other track time ahead of my W Series campaign thanks to the Affiliate programme." "It’s a really supportive environment which is also really useful for me to hopefully show other young women that the opportunities in motorsport are there, you just need the drive and motivation to seize them.”
Pulling and Powell will compete together in W Series – this year effectively sharing the track for the first time on a full-time basis. Last year, Alice Powell took three victories and five podiums in the all-female championship, coming second in the points standings after an unfortunate final round at COTA. A ground-breaking athlete, Powell is a born-history maker: she was the first woman to win a championship in Formula Renault (2010), first woman to score points in the GP3 Series – now rebranded FIA F3 – and is currently also part of the Envision Racing's Formula E team in a development and simulator role. She returned to racing after a budget-imposed hiatus thanks to the free-to-entry W Series championship, where she took victory at the inaugural season finale in Brands Hatch. She will return to the series for her third season with Bristol Street Motors team, as the 2022 championship gets underway this weekend in Miami, USA. “We are committed to developing our pool of talent and bringing even more drivers through to F1" – said Julian Rouse, Alpine Academy Director. "Through this programme we want to ensure women have an equal opportunity to do so." While a few teams have now committed to diversity and inclusion programmes, the presence of Alice Powell in a talent scouting role undoubtedly represents a big step forward to actually ensure that progress is made after the initial announcements. "Alice will be a great asset to the team as we move forward with our Academy and Affiliate programme", Rouse continued. "Her role of identifying young racers, particularly female, and then guiding them through her extensive experience is incredibly useful and reassuring for the emerging potential talents we are seeing now.”