Formula 1 has announced it will launch its own series exclusively for female drivers in 2023, and it will sit below W Series by using Formula 4 cars.
F1 Academy will feature five current Formula 2 teams fielding three cars each, and the inaugural season will consist of seven rounds containing three races each. There will also be 15 test days.
The series will follow many European F4 championships in using the Tatuus T-421 car, Abarth engine and Pirelli tyres, and costs of running that package will be subsidised by F1. F2’s CEO Bruno Michel will be the series manager.
W Series has run since 2019 and is a Formula Regional series where all the drivers are women. Financial issues led to its 2020 season being cancelled and also the early end of its 2022 campaign, and its 2023 season is not confirmed to go ahead.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and achieve their potential and F1 wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to create greater diversity and routes into this incredible sport,” said F1 president Stefano Domenicali.
“That is why I am delighted to announce the F1 Academy that will give young female drivers the best chance to fulfil their ambitions through a comprehensive programme that supports their racing careers and gives them everything they need to move into Formula 3 and hopefully to F2 and then the pinnacle of F1. The more opportunity there is the better and this is designed to provide another route for the drivers to succeed.”
Michel said he was “very excited” to helm the new project, which currently does not have a calendar and has been promoted by F1 as being a path straight to the FIA F3 Championship by bypassing W Series.
“Diversity is extremely important in motorsport, and with the F1 Academy we will prove that female drivers have what it takes to compete at high levels. I am absolutely convinced that if young women are given the same amount of experience as any other driver, they can successfully make their way through the pyramid.
“Our goal is to see female drivers on the F3 grid in the next two to three years, and for them to quickly challenge for points and podiums. The aim is to increase the field in the near future, because we hope that this category will inspire more young girls to compete in motorsport at the highest of levels.”