The last time a woman competed in a Formula 1 Grand Prix was 47 years ago. According to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, approximately 40% of global F1 fans are now women. If almost half of F1 fans are women, why isn’t there some female representation in the sport?
In December 2022, Formula 1 announced they were launching an all-female driver category called the F1 Academy, set to debut in 2023. This new addition to motorsport is focused on developing young female drivers for higher levels of competition. Formula 1 teams have established a direct collaboration with F1 Academy in which each Formula 1 team will designate a single driver to compete under their team name and livery. The all-female competition comprises five distinct teams, each managed by constructors currently involved in either F2 or F3. The F1 Academy series is about so much more than finding the next woman Formula 1 driver. It’s also an effort to encourage the inclusion of women in various roles within the sport, including positions like engineers and mechanics.
Formula 1 has introduced the female motorsport icon Susie Wolff as the Managing Director of the F1 Academy category. Susie Wolff, a retired driver herself and partner of Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff, knows the ins and outs of the sport and is perfectly suited for progressing female involvement in F1.
“This landmark moment not only demonstrates the depth of support for F1 Academy from across the F1 community but will inspire a whole generation of young girls to realize the opportunities both on and off track in motorsport,” — Susie Wolff
Historically, Formula 1, and motorsport in general, have been male-dominated. However, times are changing and with the Drive To Survive docuseries bringing a whole new fan-base, it’s time that there was some female representation in the sport itself. The F1 Academy is crucial in promoting gender diversity in the sport as it provides a platform exclusively for women. By creating this specialized series for women, female racing talents can develop their skills and gain experience in an encouraging environment. This is essential for nurturing the next generation of female drivers who can compete at the highest levels of motorsport. Having a visible and accessible pathway to Formula 1 can inspire young girls and aspiring female racers to chase their dreams. The women who compete in the F1 Academy Series can serve as role models and show that gender should not be a barrier to achieving success in motorsport.
“Collectively, we can achieve so much together. If we can connect with the growing female fan base that F1 has, we can inspire the next generation and show that this isn’t just a male-dominated industry.” — Susie Wolff
Although I love to watch icons like Hamilton and Verstappen race in F1, as a woman, it would be exciting and inspiring to see a female driver in F1 again. The success of drivers such as Bianca Bustamante and Marta Garcia only makes me hopeful that I will one day see them in F1. If you’re an F1 fan looking for other motorsport championships to watch, go support the girls and keep up with the F1 academy!