Formula 1 has announced the launch of a new all-female junior category named the F1 Academy, which will begin in 2023.
The sport confirmed a 15-car grid will be running at seven different race weekends next season, with three races per round for young female drivers which Formula 1 aims to help them “progress to higher levels of competition – including W Series, Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3”.
Five current Formula 2 and Formula 3 teams will be running teams in the new F1 Academy series, which will be running Tatuus T421 chassis, with Autotecnica-powered turbocharged engines capable of up to 172 horsepower, running on Pirelli tyres.
The series also includes 15 days of official testing for the drivers and Formula 1 will subsidise the cost of each car with €150,000 worth of budget. Though the drivers are expected to provide the same amount to run in the F1 Academy, Formula 1 says this represents “a fraction of the usual costs in comparable series”.
It will be overseen by Bruno Michel, CEO of Formula Motorsport Limited, and further to the initial reports of the series’ launch last month the sport have confirmed they do not intend to introduce the F1 Academy as a direct rival to W Series.
A statement from F1 read: “After assessing the barriers young female drivers face with entering the F1 pyramid, it became clear they do not have the same amount of experience as their male counterparts at the same age.
“Thus the goal of the F1 Academy is to fill this gap and offer female drivers access to more track time, racing and testing. The racers will also grow by working with professional teams who are renowned in motorsport for nurturing young drivers, and who will help them develop the crucial technical, physical and mental preparation skills needed for elite competition.
“Formula 1’s intentions are to ensure aspiring female drivers have the best opportunities to reach their potential, with an important first step of getting into Formula 3 and progressing through the ranks.
“The W Series continues to provide a great platform for drivers and the F1 Academy is intended to add an extra route for the next generation of young female drivers, who will race in an environment that will allow them to gain fundamental experience thanks to a great amount of track time.”
With that, the two series aim to co-exist alongside each other next season, with W Series having had to curtail the end of its 2022 season due to financial troubles.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and achieve their potential and Formula 1 wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to create greater diversity and routes into this incredible sport,” said Formula 1 president and CEO 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 F3 and hopefully to F2 and then the pinnacle of Formula 1.
“The more opportunity there is the better, and this is designed to provide another route for the drivers to succeed.”