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The F1 Academy, and Why Diversity in Motorsport is Important

  • by: Conor McKeon
  • On: 20, Mar 2023
6 min read

Motorsport has always been quick to change, keeping things fresh and exciting for new seasons. Formula 1 is launching a new all-female driving series this year: the F1 Academy. But why now? And why is diversity in racing important? 

What is the F1 Academy 

The F1 Academy is a new feeder series, designed to give female racers a chance to gain experience with racing and move up the ranks. It has been created to augment the W Series, not replace it, with the long-term aim of enabling women drivers to compete in the main F1 races. 

This quote from CEO of Formula Motorsport Bruno Michel gives us everything we need to know: 

“Diversity is extremely important in motorsport, and with the F1 Academy we will prove that female drivers have what it takes to compete at high levels. I am absolutely convinced that if young women are given the same amount of experience as any other driver, they can successfully make their way through the pyramid." 

He added: “Our goal is to see female drivers on the F3 grid in the next two to three years, and for them to quickly challenge for points and podiums. The aim is to increase the field in the near future, because we hope that this category will inspire more young girls to compete in motorsport at the highest of levels.” 

 It was announced in December that five teams have signed up to take part. ART, Campos, Carlin, MP Motorsport, and Prema are all well established competitors in other series, and have committed to three drivers in the F1 Academy per year until at least 2025. 

Each team will have three drivers, meaning 15 drivers in total. There will be seven events with three races at each, meaning 21 in total across the first season. 

The drivers will compete in standardised chassis, powered by a turbocharged four cylinder engine with 165 brake horsepower across the board. As is the case with F1, Pirelli will serve as the manufacturer of the 13-inch tyres to be used in the F1 Academy. 

Historically, women have been woefully under-represented in motorsport, and this initiative goes some way towards correcting this.  

The academy is designed to nurture new talent, something the sport always needs as teams change and racers retire. This long-term approach is a welcome change, and moves the sport as a whole towards a more diverse future, as it may encourage other types of motorsport to follow F1’s lead and create ways for more women to get involved.  

Why diversity in motorsport matters 

It nurtures talent and creates new names in racing 

A criticism of motorsport is that certain racers rise to the top and then become the only names worth knowing. The F1 Academy allows for new talent to enter the sport and gain experience, hopefully propelling them to new heights, maybe even making it to Formula One itself.  

It will provide a pipeline of up and coming challengers, ready and eager to prove their skills and make a name for themselves as serious racers, making the sport more exciting and less predictable.  

It attracts more investors and advertising to the sport 

While the fans may not be excited by more advertising or investor interest in the sport, it's undeniably a crucial element of the long-term health of Formula One, and motorsport in general.  

When new initiatives like this are launched, it opens the sport up for interest from new businesses, new markets, and advertising to new audiences. All of this is vital for keeping the sport alive.  

We may well see increased interest in motorsport thanks to initiatives like this, and more investment in the sport means bigger and better events, spectacles, and interest around the world.  

It brings the sport to more fans 

Lastly, one of the best arguments for introducing more diversity into Formula One is that it increases the number of fans the sport has. While motorsport might have been marketed to male fans during its early decades, it has massively grown in popularity with women, and the F1 Academy aims to continue, helping to introduce more people to the sport with this new format.  

This new series may inspire young women to take up racing, or engineering, thanks to them seeing female racers on the podium. The F1 Academy may prove to have a big impact, bringing more fans to the sport, and helping bring more women into the world of racing. 

Hopefully the F1 Academy succeeds in all its aims, introducing new racers into the sport, giving them experience to learn and rise up the ranks, and bringing new fans to motorsport.  

Read more about why we need more women in STEM roles, or learn about five famous women from engineering history 

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