F1 Academy can be ‘rocket fuel’ for women in racing

F1 Academy boss Susie Wolff wants her series to be like “rocket fuel” for female talent looking to progress up racing’s junior racing ladder, having entered into a partnership with Formula One’s 10 teams.

From next year F1 teams will each nominate a driver to take part in the series and provide its livery to that competitor.

F1 Academy is designed to offer opportunities to young female drivers and act as the first step on the single-seater ladder, which runs all the way up to F1.

The series’ inaugural season started in April and culminates with races on the support bill of F1’s U.S. Grand Prix at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas in October.

A woman has not driven in an F1 race since Lella Lombardi at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix but Wolff says F1 Academy’s biggest short term objective is to push more women up the racing ladder.

“It’s about having the right progression,” Wolff told ESPN. “It’s about knowing what’s right to our winner to progress.

“And it’s not just the winner, if we’ve got P2, P3, whoever it is, looking to progress, I’ll do all I can to see them progress up the ladder.

“We are not a destination for young female drivers to stay and to race in. We are there to provide a platform and nurture them and give them the rocket fuel for further progression in the sport.

“We don’t believe in segregation; we believe in giving a huge opportunity to help these young talents who want a progression.”

Wolff praised F1’s teams for partnering with the Academy, saying it was imperative to its long-term success to have total buy-in.

“I arrived in this role and knew we had to be much more than just a race series for 15 young women,” Wolff said.

“I knew that being called F1 Academy gave us the unique position we were very closely aligned with F1. For me it was clear I didn’t want to be in this journey alone.

“We needed the decision-making power in this sport to be on the journey with us. I was very conscious that I didn’t want to have this seen as a woman’s thing run by a woman, because there’s been a lot of that in the past, especially when I did my own initiative.

“I have to say there was a lot of support from the paddock and it wouldn’t have been possible to get this far without that. There were a couple of team principals, I don’t want to name names… more than a couple, to be honest, who were just really supportive and that really gave us momentum and helped it all come to life really.”

As well as the support from F1, F1 Academy’s five competing teams are all established outfits in the Formula 3 and Formula 2 support championships.

With F1 Academy set to join F2 and F3 more regularly on the F1 support bill in 2024, Wolff says the onus is now on the Academy to have entertaining and competitive racing.

“It’s a great opportunity but I’m under no illusions we have to deliver now. We’ve got the 10 teams on board. We have a platform being on the F1 calendar which can raise an incredible amount of awareness and inspire a lot. But we need to deliver a good product.

“This is not running on goodwill from people because it’s hip to support women’s sport. I have no doubt we have to build a sustainable model which over the long term can be successful.”

This news article came from: https://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/38082298/f1-academy-wants-rocket-fuel-female-progression-motor-racing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *