Ferrari has partnered with the FIA to identify female racing talent and potentially add a driver to its list of Formula 1 proteges over the next two years.
At the end of last year Ferrari stated its desire to add a female driver to the Ferrari Driver Academy, which currently comprises male drivers competing in Formula 2, Formula 3 and Formula 4 and has F1 driver Charles Leclerc among its graduates.
The FIA has announced its Women in Motorsport Commission is launching the ‘FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars’ initiative, which will be run in association with Ferrari and could reward two drivers with a place in the FDA and an F4 drive.
This project is a four-year commitment and will have financial support from the FIA’s ‘Innovation Fund’.
A long-list of 20 drivers has already been put together and will be invited to an October shootout hosted by the famous Winfield Racing School at Paul Ricard.
The list will be trimmed to 12 drivers for further karting and F4 Winfield-run tests in October and November.
Four drivers will then be chosen to attend a one-week course at the FDA in Maranello in November.
The best of the final quartet will join the FDA and get an F4 drive “subject to final assessment of the racing talent” – meaning there is no guarantee that one of the drivers will become a Ferrari protege.
However, if Ferrari does sign one of the drivers it will have an option to renew that contract for a second year, backing her into 2022 as well.
And the length of the programme means there will be a repeat of the talent identification and selection process in 2021, which could result in two female drivers ultimately joining the FDA.
FIA Women in Motorsport Commission president Michele Mouton hailed it as “another immense step forward at the grassroots level” of motorsport.
“To be able to collaborate with Ferrari, our first partner of the programme, is fantastic and real recognition of the progress we continue to make after 10 years of our Commission’s work,” she said.
“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 an historic moment for our Women in Motorsport Commission.”
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto, who had previously expressed the team’s interest in identifying a female F1 junior, said: “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.”