The FIA Women in Motorsport Commission has launched a new ‘Rising Stars’ add-on to its Girls on Track programme which is working with the Ferrari Driver Academy.
The programme aims to identify the best female drivers around the globe aged between 12 and 16 and assist them in becoming professionals.
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A longlist of 20 drivers has already been selected to take part in a shootout at Paul Ricard this October that will be hosted by the Winfield Racing School.
That will be whittled down to 12 for a training camp based around Formula 4 and karting, with the added assistance of Praga for the latter element.
From that training camp, just four drivers will progress to a one-week course with the FDA in November.
Subject to meeting an assessment standard, one of those four would then be awarded an F4 drive for 2021 as a Ferrari junior.
An end-of-year assessment would decide if they are kept on as an FIA-supported Ferrari junior for a second season, with Ferrari then having the independence to keep the winning driver on for years beyond that.
The selection process will then be repeated for a second FIA-supported FDA inductee to join in 2022, with the same opportunities as the first.
“[This] is another immense step forward at the grassroots level of the sport and, with manufacturer partners, we have a really concrete opportunity to find, develop and support young women drivers,” said Women in Motorsport Commission president and World Rally Championship event winner Michele Mouton.
“To be able to collaborate with Ferrari, our first partner of the programme is a fantastic and real recognition of the progress we continue to make after 10 years of our commission’s work. It is an incredibly exciting multi-year agreement, which we hope will result in two winning drivers becoming Ferrari’s first ever female racers. That is a very special thought and would be a historic moment for our Women in Motorsport Commission.”
The tie up between Ferrari and the FIA comes after team principal Mattia Binotto revealed earlier this year that the Scuderia was working on adding a female driver to its academy ranks.
“We are really pleased to be collaborating with the FIA in this innovative Girls on Track – Rising Stars programme,” Binotto added. “We are firm believers in the value of helping youngsters develop in motorsport.
“The FDA has been operating for over a decade now, not just purely and simply selecting the best drivers, but also working on their cultural, technical and ethical education.
“With this in mind, we felt we had to make a further effort to expand our area of operation to include female youngsters who want to get on in motorsport. Although there is no actual barrier to their participation, we are aware that it is harder for women to progress in this field.
“That’s why we have responded enthusiastically to the FIA initiative and we believe that we can help introduce even more young women to this fantastic sport. Who knows, maybe one day we will once again see a woman competing in a Formula 1 World Championship race for the first time since 1976.”