Being a Formula 1 driver is a dream for a lot of boys around the world. Traditionally, motorsport has been a very masculine space, with no opportunity for girls, especially on track. But now the times have changed and there are a lot of women working as engineers, mechanics or even strategists. In this new scenario, girls can dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver as well. Thing about it, FIA (International Automobile Federation) created a brand new category for women in motorsport: F1 Academy.
F1 Academy is debuting its first season in 2023 and was developed to create more opportunities to put girls in the main access categories to F1, such as F2 and F3. The category goal is to give racing experience to young girls, helping to develop racing skills in Formula 1 tracks and boost their careers into the motorsport world.
F1 academy weekend format
In a different format, this new category has three races in the same weekend with only two qualifying times. The first qualifying time decides the starting grid for Race 1, which is 30 minutes long. The second qualifying marks the places for Race 3’s starting grid, which is also a 30 minutes race. For Race 2, which is 20 minutes long, the positions are in a reverse order for the eight firsts drivers in Race 1 qualifying and in the actual order from ninth and below.
For this first season ever, there are five teams with three drivers each. All these teams are racing in F2 or F3 too, which can be a way to put these female racers into these categories in the future, creating a path for an opportunity to be a woman driving an F1 car.
F1 Academy is not being broadcasted
If you are wondering where you can watch all the races in livestream, unfortunately, it won’t be possible. There won’t be any broadcast, at least for this season, covering this women category. Even F1TV, a stream where there are all types of content about formulas and which livestreams all three categories (F1, F2 and F3), won’t broadcast it. After the weekend, it will be possible to find videos of highlights and special moments in F1TV, but if you are looking for the whole race, it won’t be found.
According to James Bradshaw, Formula One digital technology responsible, it would be challenging to broadcast the F1 Academy races in this first season. The reason for that is that the calendar it’s not the same as the other categories, which makes it difficult to build an entire structure for livestream on TV or only on a stream. “So, that actually has made the concept of streaming quite challenging, on the basis that we don’t have the same infrastructure that we have at the circuit and able to bring that back”.
We still have a long way to go…
When F1 Academy was announced at the end of 2022, there were high expectations that it would finally be the category that would give more opportunities and let female drivers be known in the motorsport world. Since a brand new format was developed, with great names such as Susie Wolff as managing director, there was hope that the races would be broadcasted or at least livestreamed on their official channel. However, that didn’t happen, leaving all the fans, who were excited to watch the races, pretty upset.
Since the races are not available to watch, the category cannot be known. If the initiative of F1 Academy is to give a better opportunity to put girls inside Formula 1, the competitors need to be recognized by the public, the sponsors, and the teams. All the fans are complaining about not being able to see the races and a lot has been discussed about the real opportunity in this new category.
Fortunately, the public is asking for it. They want to be able to turn on their TVs and watch these 15 girls racing in the most popular tracks around the globe. This fan’s initiative of asking for it on social media is very important to show that nowadays it is necessary to give equal opportunities for all genders to be able to drive in the manly category of motorsport. In the modern world, livestream and making a new project known is very important and needs to be done in all formulas categories.
F1 Academy is getting a docuseries
There will still be an opportunity to see girls racing. On May 3rd, it was announced that a documentary production will follow all the drivers inside and outside of the track, showing the happiness and the drama of motorsport. The project was announced during F1 Miami Grand Prix weekend and will be produced by Hello Sunshine. “With high stakes, adrenaline, and heart, F1 Academy is a rich landscape for compelling and powerful female stories”, said Sara Rea, the executive producer of the docuseries.
After three exciting weekends and amazing race results, all the fans are expecting that the decisions to not broadcast the series has been revised and until the end of the season we can be able to watch live at least all three main races. The hope for next year is a full television coverage since the calendar will match with Formula One weekends.
There is still a long way to go for girls in motorsport. Every step forward needs to be celebrated, but we can’t forget to fight for new opportunities, hoping someday everyone will have the same chances. This can be the first chapter of a huge history.
The article above was edited by Julia Queiroz.
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