Formula 1 has launched an all-female racing series which will begin next year and aims to help female drivers reach the top levels of the sport.
The category will be called the F1 Academy and will feature 5 teams who will be run by constructors currently taking part in Formula 2 and Formula 3. Each team will have three cars to create a 15 car grid. The drivers must be at least 16 years old but are required to bring €150,000 in funding which will be matched by F1 with the teams raising the remainder of the entry fee.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said “Everyone should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and achieve their potential and Formula One wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to create greater diversity and routes into this incredible sport. 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 F3 and hopefully to F2 and then the pinnacle of Formula One.”
The existing W Series, which is free to enter, had to cancel the last three of its season races due to financial issues. W Series founder Catherine Bond Muir said “Our objective from the start has always been to increase the talent pool of women racing drivers, and the addition of the F1 Academy as a feeder to W Series and other series is a further step in inspiring the next generation to progress up the motorsport ladder.”
No female driver has started a F1 grand prix since Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.