Home Formula One F1 Academy Picks Up The place the W Sequence Left Off

F1 Academy Picks Up The place the W Sequence Left Off

F1 Academy Picks Up The place the W Sequence Left Off


It has been 47 years since a lady drove in a Components 1 Grand Prix, when Lella Lombardi of Italy completed twelfth on the Austrian Grand Prix in 1976.

In 2019, the all-female W Sequence began in an try to offer a strategy to get ladies behind the wheel, however it collapsed in June with out seeing a lady near a Components 1 seat.

Now, F1 Academy has crammed the void, an all-female racing sequence began by Components 1 in April, with 15 drivers competing in three races throughout seven rounds. The primary six are in Europe and the final in Austin, Texas.

However the sequence is greater than about looking for the following girl Components 1 driver. It is usually an try to deliver ladies into different positions within the sport, resembling engineers and mechanics.

“The idea of F1 Academy is to create a platform the place ladies might be nurtured to progress additional up the ladder, but in addition to encourage the following technology and to create alternative, not simply on observe, but in addition off it,” Susie Wolff, managing director of the academy, mentioned in an interview.

“We’re not simply targeted on discovering the following feminine Components 1 driver; we need to change into a motion, which really has impactful change within the sport and will increase variety in each space.”

Wolff loved a wholesome motorsport profession. Following many profitable years in karting, she raced in varied classes earlier than progressing to Components 1 as a improvement driver with the Williams crew in 2012.

Two years later, she turned the primary girl to participate in a Grand Prix weekend since Giovanna Amati in 1992 when Wolff drove in apply periods within the British and German Grands Prix.

After founding the Dare To Be Totally different marketing campaign, geared toward growing the participation of ladies in motor racing, Wolff was crew principal after which chief govt of the Venturi Components E crew from 2018 to 2022.

“I really feel actually fortunate that I used to be a driver for 25 years,” mentioned Wolff, who’s married to Toto Wolff, the Mercedes crew principal. “So I do know what all these younger drivers are going by and what the challenges are as a result of I’ve been there.

“Now I’m with the F1 Academy, I’m not simply flying the flag saying ‘I feel it’s doable’, I do know it’s as a result of I’ve been there. It’s powerful, however attending to the highest of any sport is extremely powerful.”

The W Sequence shone a highlight on a bunch of younger feminine drivers aiming to interrupt into Components 1. All of the rivals had been backed by the sequence, with the general champion profitable $500,000. This system has fallen aside due to monetary issues.

F1 Academy is supported by Components 1, which is offering a price range of $160,000 a driver. The 15 drivers should match that with their very own sponsorship, with the winner promoted to Components 3.

“Credit score the place credit score’s due, the W Sequence began one thing,” Wolff mentioned. “Was it how I might have achieved it? No, however they nonetheless managed to realize rather a lot.

“At F1 Academy, we’d be naïve to not be taught from what they did nicely and what they bought flawed,” she mentioned, referring to its enterprise mannequin. “However I nonetheless applaud them for attempting as a result of anybody that springs into motion, and doesn’t simply speak about it, deserves a specific amount of respect.”

There are 5 groups in F1 Academy run by established Components 2 and Components 3 groups: ART Grand Prix, Campos Racing, Rodin Carlin, MP Motorsport and Prema Racing.

Stephanie Carlin, crew principal of Rodin Carlin, mentioned the massive distinction between F1 Academy and W Sequence was the academy’s focus “on redressing the stability of females in motorsport.”

“It’s not simply the drivers, however F1 Academy is a store window for the potential of females in all areas,” Carlin, who can also be deputy crew principal of Rodin Carlin’s Components 2 and Components 3 groups, mentioned in an interview.

“A yr in the past, we had no feminine employees that weren’t in both P.R. or accounts, and we now have two feminine mechanics and a feminine engineer being educated as much as change into a part of our F1 Academy crew. They’re right here as a result of there’s been such a drive to get ladies into motorsport.”

As for the ambition of seeing a lady Components 1 competitor, Carlin mentioned, “F1 Academy is an actual enabler of expertise, a driving pressure that may assist produce that feminine star that’s going to go all the best way, however it’s not going to be the work of a second. It’s a protracted course of.”

Chloe Grant, 17, is without doubt one of the hopefuls. She drives for the ART Grand Prix crew based by Frédéric Vasseur, the Ferrari crew principal.

Grant mentioned she felt fortunate to be one of many drivers competing within the debut season.

“It’s a large step up for me,” Grant, who completed ninth in final yr’s GB4 Championship, mentioned in an interview. “Final yr, I used to be studying the fundamentals of single seaters, however I wasn’t actually studying that a lot.

“However after only a few rounds of F1 Academy, I’ve realized a lot extra this yr than I ever did final yr, and you’ll see that in my progress by my instances, my tempo and confidence within the automobile.”

As with each driver in F1 Academy, the aim of reaching Components 1 is apparent, however cash stays a hurdle. To progress up the motorsport ladder, from karting to Components 1, would seemingly value round $7 million.

“Financially, to even get to that time, to get by F3 and F2, on the minute it’s unrealistic for me,” Grant mentioned, “until I get backing and help.”

Wolff mentioned it might be eight to 10 years earlier than a lady drives in a Grand Prix once more.

“It pains me to say that, as a result of clearly there are lots of younger ladies racing now who could be ok,” she mentioned, “however we’ve bought to all the time be reasonable with our expectations. That is positively a long-term undertaking, and that’s why it’s so vital Components 1 is behind it, as a result of we are going to see and reap the rewards, however it’s going to take time.”



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