F1 Academy: Motorsport's new bet in all-female series

F1 Academy: Motorsport's new bet in all-female series

Formula 1 is following W-Series's steps in starting a new, all-female racing championship with the aim of preparing young drivers for higher categories, and the inaugural season begins today in Austria. Here's everything you need to know.

The format

The season consists of seven weekends, including three races each for a total of 21 events. Only 15 drivers are allowed to compete, distributed between 5 teams (ART, Campos, Carlin, MP Motorsport, and Prema).

Date Race
27-28 April Spielberg
4-6 May Valencia
18-20 May Barcelona
22-24 June Zandvoort
6-8 July Monza
28-29 July Le Castellet
19-21 October Austin

Unlike Formula 2 and Formula 3, only one of F1 Academy's weekends is expected to be a Formula 1 support race (that is, running on the same weekend as an F1 Grand Prix). However, Stefano Domenicali confirmed in March that this would change in 2024, having all of the new series's events as support of the main championship.

The cars

The F1 Academy will use the F4-T421 designed and built by Italian manufacturer Tatuus. The car was designed for Formula 4 categories and was introduced in 2021. It will run turbocharged engines from Autotecnica, and use Pirelli tires.

Wait, hasn't this been tried before?

Yes! You probably remember the W-Series, the first, all-female racing series founded in 2018. It was growing season after season and even achieved 1 million viewers in one of their last races.

However, things have gone downhill for the organization, and they had to end their 2022 season early due to financial difficulties, declaring Jamie Chadwick the championship winner.

The panorama only got worse for W-Series as Formula 1 announced their all-female championship toward the end of last year, bringing many questions as to whether the series will see a new season.

"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," W-Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said.

The criticism

Many personalities from the sport claimed that all-female racing series do nothing more than to "segregate" female drivers rather than promote their inclusion in already existing championships.

It remains to be seen as to whether the F1 Academy will truly make an impact in the inclusion of women in other series, especially for those who wish to compete in Formula 1 someday in the future.