F1 Academy launches global initiative to grow female talent pool

First phase of Discover Your Drive programme sees targeted funding in UK karting.

The all-female F1 Academy series has launched Discover Your Drive, a global initiative aimed at increasing the female talent pool in motorsport both on and off track.

Confirmed:

  • The first initiative will be F1 Academy Discover Your Drive Karting UK, a national programme to find and nurture the next generation of young female karters
  • Programme will be operated by Motorsport UK, the governing body for four-wheeled motorsport in the UK

Context: Recent statistics show that around 45,000 young girls visit TeamSport venues every year, but only a small percentage ever progress to competition. Furthermore, of the 2,275 cadets aged eight to 12 in the TeamSport Race Academy, only 146 are girls. The disparity further increases at senior level with only five per cent of all Motorsport UK race licence holders being female.

Comment: Susie Wolff, managing director of F1 Academy, said: “When we launched F1 Academy in March, one of our key objectives was to increase the pipeline of talent entering our sport, both strengthening the pool of drivers aiming to make it to an elite level and supporting those who want to pursue roles off track.

“The launch of F1 Academy Discover Your Drive is an important step to achieving this and as we join the F1 global calendar next year, the reach of the programme will be huge and will give us the platform to inspire many girls and young women around the world.

“To have the support of likeminded organisations like Motorsport UK and TeamSport Karting to deliver our first national programme is hugely important, and I look forward to seeing it grow and be impactful long term.”

Coming next: Although F1 Academy has attracted criticism for the lack of visibility it is granting its drivers in its inaugural season, this is a step in the right direction. Targeting funding at karting level is what will create the required talent pool that is severely lacking at the moment.

This will begin to balance the scales for female participation in motorsport which, in the most visible section of Formula One, Formula Two and Formula Three, sees Sophia Flörsch as the only female driver out of 72 total competitors. 

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