F1 Academy

Meet the next generation of female talent in racing

F1 Academy
F1 Academy driver and Mercedes Junior, Doriane Pin (Picture Credit: SkySports)

Shattering barriers at the apex of competition - F1 academy is a female only single seater car racing championship, created and owned by Formula 1 started in 2023. It is a platform for young female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition, once they graduate from karting.

More Than Equal's research has found that female drivers face significant barriers in progressing through levels of motorsport, over and above those faced by their male counterparts. Problems including an absence of large enough pool of female talent, the  cost of competing, sexism in investment, stereotypes regarding perception of female drivers, absence of proper training, less track time, absence of female role models and lack of research contribute to gender participation gap across levels of motorsports. At present, female participation across all categories of motorsports is at abysmal low 10%. 

To combat this, and to provide women with an easy transition from karting to race cars, F1 academy was founded by Formula 1 itself. With its unique structure and well planned operations, it seeks to mitigate the challenges faced by female only series like W-series and Formula Women in the past.

"Sometimes you need to see it to believe it. F1 academy will drive and nurture the talent of tomorrow, today, create opportunities and inspire the future generation of Female Talent" - Susie Wolff
Susie Wolff, F1 Academy Managing Driver and Former Racer (Picture Credit: Motorsport.com)

F1 Academy is headed by Susie Wolff. Being a former racer herself and the last woman to take part in any formula 1 weekend (she drove in a practice session with William sin 2014), her experience is defining factor for the series's success. In stark contrast to W-series, F1 Academy's decision to put someone who understands the complexity for women to reach the upper levels of championship is crucial ally.

F1 academy is designed to give young female drivers more track time at F1 grade 1 tracks, the most challenging, across the world. Along with testing, technical, physical and mental support and preparations. It provides drivers with access to the fundamental level of experience needed to progress to F3 and join the road to F1. 

To achieve this, F1 Academy has 5 teams, with each team operating 3 cars i.e., 3 drivers. The grid consists of 15 drivers (For the 2024 season a special wild card entry for each race weekend for a driver from host region is created, making the grid complete with 16 drivers). Each seat in F1 academy costs  €100,000 (2024), which is a subsidised cost set by Formula 1. All 5 teams participating in F1 Academy are experienced F2 and F3 teams- Prema Racing, ART Gran Prix, Campo s Racing, Rodin Motorsports and MP Motorsport. All five teams are experts in nurturing young talent and helping them reach the pinnacle. Most drivers on the F1 grid at present were part of these teams at some time or the other including the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso etc. 

F1 Academy 2023 Grid (Photo Credit: F1 Academy)

In 2023, drivers Nerea Martí, Lola Lovinfosse and Maite Caceres (front L-R in white) joined Campos Racing. Hamda Al Qubaisi, Emely de Heus and Hamda's elder sister Amna Al Qubaisi (front L-R in orange) raced with MP Motorsport. ART Gran Prix had Léna Bühler, Carrie Schreiner and Chloe Grant as their drivers (back L-R). Alpine backed Abby Pulling, Jessica Edgar and Megan Gilkes raced with Rodin Carlin (middle L-R) and Prema Racing had the youngest driver Chloe Chong alongside Marta Garcia and Bianca Bustamante (Back L-R in red).

For the 2024 season, Lola Lovinfosse has moved to Rodin Carlin (renamed Rodin Motorsports, alongside Abbi Pulling and Jessica Edgar. MP Motor sport has retained its original drivers. Carrie Schreiner has moved to Campos Racing alsonside Nerea Martí and new driver Chloe Chambers. Bianca Bustamante is now racing for ART Gran Prix with new drivers Aurelia Nobels and Lia Block. Prema Racing has a new ensemble in Tina Hausmamn, Doriane Pin and Maya Weug. For the first race in Saudi, Reema Juffali joined in as a wild card entry. The drives represent 11 nationalities and are setting their name in the history of racing.

This article is part of series titled "The long road to seeing a woman drive in Formula 1". Find out more about F1 technicals and tracks in the next article.

Tech, Track and Technique
What are the rules of F1 academy and why they matter -