Megan Gilkes announces retirement from Pro competitions after COTA season finale
Canadian racer Megan Gilkes has announced that the 2023 F1 Academy season finale at COTA will be the last of her professional career as a racing driver, having secured a full time job as engineer at Aston Martin F1 Team.
Canadian racer Megan Gilkes has announced that the 2023 F1 Academy season finale at COTA will be the last of her professional career as a racing driver. Gilkes currently sits 13th in the drivers' standings, with 31 points to her name, with a fifth place at Monza and Red Bull Ring as her best result of the season. The 22 year old is in fact an engineering graduate and has announced that she will join the Aston Martin F1 Team as an engineer, stepping aside from her racing driver role to focus on her new position within the F1 environment. "I am in Austin for what is the last race of the F1 Academy season, and will be the final professional-level race of my career", Gilkes, wrote. "My goal since I was ten years old was to make it to Formula 1, and now I’ve achieved that with securing a full time job with Aston Martin when I finish university. The absolute dream come true." "I want to put everything into that, and into becoming the best engineer possible for the team that has given me my start in F1, so am stepping aside from racing for the near future to make room for that", Megan continued. Gilkes started to climb the ranks of junior formulae in her native Canada, where she was third in the 2017 Canadian Formula 1200 Championship before finishing second in 2018, collecting 3 wins and 17 podiums across the two seasons. She also competed in the Formula Vee and F2000 Championship Series in the same years, before being scouted for the inaugural season of the all-female W Series championship. In 2019, Gilkes made it through all the selection stages of W Series and entered the championship as the youngest driver on the grid. Despite a significant step forward in machinery, Megan learned the Tatuus Formula Regional car and famously took victory in the Assen reverse grid, non-championship race, beating at photofinish Alice Powell by 3 thousands of a second - becoming the youngest ever W Series winner. While she couldn't qualify for a second season in W Series, she returned to her home soil in 2020, where she was runner up in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship with 13 podiums, 2 pole positions and 2 fastest laps, as well as F1600 Canada rookie of the year. In 2021 she joined the inaugural season of the GB4 Championship, at the wheel of the Hillspeed Tatuus T014 F4 car. Gilkes had a remarkable year in GB4, taking victory in race 3 at Snetterton on the opening round, then stepping back on top of the podium at Donington Park. She would also add a third place finish to her points table in Silverstone, eventually finishing sixth in the championship. "I had planned for the final round of GB4 last year to be my final pro race, but with the F1 Academy seeming like a good opportunity compete on the world stage, I didn’t want to pass it up", said Gilkes, who joined Rodin Carlin for the first ever season of the all-female F1 Academy championship. Megan soon reached the top five in the first championship race in Austria, then returned to the top ten two more times in the next three races. She has scored points at least one in every championship round - with an eighth place in Barcelona, a seventh in Zandvoort and a fifth in Monza - where she fought for the lead until the very final lap. An unfortunate accident in race 2 aggravated a dislocated shoulder injury from Zandvoort, and the Canadian was forced to sit out the collective tests at Paul Ricard. She returned for the race weekend and despite the missed track time she could still salvage a few points in race 3. "Now I’ve had my fun driving for a year, time to go and have fun making F1 cars go fast for the years to come." "I started my racing career in North America in a Vallis Motorsport Formula Vee dicing it out with the boys at the front, and it feels full circle that my final race will be in the States as well, and to be supporting F1 makes it all the better." "I am so proud to have achieved in racing what I’ve done, winning races in Formula Vee, Formula 2000, the W Series, Formula Ford 1600, and GB4. Let’s try and add F1 Academy to that list for one last swansong weekend at COTA." All our best wishes to Megan Gilkes for her next career.