Every round of the new all-female series F1 Academy will feature on the Formula 1 support bill next year.
F1’s new championship will begin this year with 15 female drivers competing in Formula 4 machinery across seven rounds – the final of which will take place alongside the United States Grand Prix in Austin.
The other six rounds will take place away from F1 weekends but that will change for the series’ second year as it will become fully aligned with the F1 schedule from 2024.
“We haven’t yet started the [2023 F1 Academy] season on the track but I can confirm with you that next year, F1 Academy will be on the racing weekend with Formula 1,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domencali.
“Of course, not everywhere [every F1 race], but that will be part of the plan to promote F1 Academy… that’s something we are really keen [on], that hopefully that will be the right boost for the season to grow; of course, we have just started.
“F1 took the leadership on that to try to do something, investing, believing that by creating attention to that project we can have hopefully as soon as we can, a girl, a woman, in F1. That’s our hope and that’s why we are really investing a lot.
“[F1 Academy managing director] Susie Wolff will lead this plan, this programme and in the next couple of weeks we will announce the details of what is more than [on] the track because we need to start to create awareness.”
The inaugural F1 Academy season will begin on April 28 with two races at the Red Bull Ring followed by rounds at Valencia (the Ricardo Tormo circuit, rather than the ex-F1 venue), Catalunya, Zandvoort, Monza, Paul Ricard and Austin.
Each weekend will feature three races including one reversed-grid race.
The series will use the Tatuus T421 chassis used by all the major European F4 championships and F1 will subsidise the cost of each car with a budget of €150,000. Drivers and teams – all five participating outfits race in F2 and F3 – cover the remaining costs.
Six of the 15 F1 Academy drivers have previously competed in the all-female W Series, which raced on the F1 support bill in 2021 and 2022 but is still yet to confirm whether it will continue into 2023.
The Race says
This feels like the kind of move I expected F1 to make for F1 Academy’s inaugural season but 2024 is better late than never.
The idea of the new championship racing on the support bills of other championships – including other junior feeder series and low-profile GT series – felt bizarre to me.
I understand the benefit of the drivers (and the championship) learning their craft away from the spotlight but the whole premise of the series is to showcase and prepare female talent.
It’s tricky to showcase it if it’s happening hundreds or thousands of miles away, as will be the case for six of the seven rounds in 2023.
It goes without saying that exposure is crucial to a driver furthering their career and the F1 Academy drivers will need sponsorship to advance their careers, just like any other drivers.
And you’re far more likely to get that vital support if you’re racing alongside F1 week-in, week-out than clearing the track for a niche sportscar series.