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Maya Weug graduates from "Rising Stars" program, joins FDA

Karting up-and-coming talent Maya Weug has come out on top of the inaugural "Rising Stars" program by the FIA Women In Motorsport Commission and will thus become the first female driver to join the prestigious Ferrari Driver Academy.

Ph credits: FIA Women In Motorsport

A little over 3 months after the first shoot out test contested at Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France, the first ever FIA Women In Motorsport "Rising Stars" program concluded today with the announcement of its first winner: it will be Maya Weug to graduate from the six-stages selection and join the Ferrari Driver Academy.

Maya, 16 year old and already an international karting star, makes history and becomes the first ever woman in the Scuderia Ferrari's young driver program, which has brought to F1 stardom racers of the likes of Charles Leclerc, Mick Schumacher, Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez, Jules Bianchi - and has currently in its ranks F2 hopefuls Marcus Armstrong, Callum Ilott, Robert Schwartzman, F3 racers Enzo Fittipaldi, Gianluca Petecof, Arthur Leclerc, Dino Beganivoc and Australian karting ace James Wharton.

The detection process started in February 2020, when all the national federations communicatde to the FIA their young karting talents between the age of 12 and 16.

The first on-track meeting then went underway in October, when the drivers attended the Shoot-outs and were able to showcase their skills to advance to the next stage: the FIA Training Camps.

12 drivers advanced to the first assessment at Paul Ricard and were further evaluated on driving technique, physical training and communication skills. At the end of three-days of intense work, the eight drivers that were admitted to the second Training Camp were Julia Ayoub, Antonella Bassani, Jessica Edgar, Esmee Kostermann, Toni Naude, Juju Noda, Doriane Pin and Maya Weug.

The four best drivers to graduate from the initial stages of the program were then Ayoub, Bassani, Pin and Weug, who received the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend a one-week training in Ferrari's Formula 1 headquarters in Maranello.

The selection process encountered a temporary hurdle when one of the contestants tested positive for Covid, and the workshop was moved to January 2021.

In Maranello, the four ladies undertook the medical, nutritional and physical assessment, as well as the media workshop and technical training from the Scuderia Ferrari team members - including F1 driver Carlos Sainz and team principal Mattia Binotto.

To round out the experience, the finalists had two days of testing at the Fiorano circuit in Formula 4 cars - prepared by the Winfield Racing School - to convince the F1 team to offer them the prestigious contract.

Ph credits: FIA Women In Motorsport

It was Maya Weug to impress the most and will thus enter the 2021 Formula 4 championship with official support from FDA.

Maya - born in 2004 in Spain from Dutch and Belgian parents - is a big name in international karting and has won the 2016 WSK Final Cup in the Mini category. In 2018, Weug was selected together with Julia Ayoub to enter the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy and the doors to the competitive Birel ART Racing team opened.

In her first years of international races, Weug shared the track with some of the biggest names of the sport and is now ready to make the next step towards her childhood dream.

"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." - she had told us in an interview earlier this year.

Whether this program will take Maya Weug to F1 might be a bit early to say, but it is certainly a monumental step in the right direction for the whole movement of women in motorsport. "Rising Stars" was the first FIA-supported program from grassroots levels to single-seaters and managed to attract an incredible amount of talents in its first season.

Scuderia Ferrari made headlines last year in January, when its management announced the intention to include a woman in its Academy, sparking speculations on the candidates. Through the "Rising Stars" project and with the collaboration of the Women Commission in the FIA, Ferrari will hopefully contribute to the long awaited return of a female racer at the pinnacle of motor racing and, crucially, would have helped in changing the existing perceptions around women in the sport.

Ph credits: FIA Women In Motorsport



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