- All-female series to be shown live on F1 TV, YouTube, X, and Facebook
- Relevant F1 rights holders will also broadcast F1 Academy
The all-female F1 Academy series will broadcast its season finale in Austin, Texas, live in over 100 international territories.
The finale at the Circuit of The Americas will be offered through Formula One’s over-the-top (OTT) platform F1 TV. For countries where the platform is unavailable, F1 Academy will be shown through the relevant media rights holder.
Coverage will also be available on Formula One’s YouTube, X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook channels. Both qualifying sessions and all three races will be broadcast in full.
Until now, the only available action has been highlights packages, with fans unable to follow F1 Academy live in any form. This will be the first time F1 Academy has appeared on the support grid of a Formula One race.
As the previous six rounds occurred independently from Formula One, series executives were unwilling to commit expenditure on the necessary infrastructure to broadcast the all-female series live.
James Bradshaw, head of digital technology at Formula One, confirmed this apprehension at the BlackBook Motorsport Forum in April, implying that F1 Academy would eventually be offered live once it ran at the same circuits as Formula One.
'F1 Academy highlights and shoulder programming will be coming to an F1 TV near you' – James Bradshaw, F1's head of digital technology, details the coverage plans for the new all-female junior series #F1 #BBMF23 pic.twitter.com/2OlchkV6zx
— BlackBook Motorsport (@MotorsportBB) April 27, 2023
With the all-female series confirmed to support Formula One for the 2024 season, and each Formula One team also committed to entering one driver and livery, a full season of live coverage will be available, details of which will be announced in due course.
“I’ve always said, ‘you have to see it to believe it’ and there is nothing more powerful than racing globally alongside F1,” said Susie Wolff (pictured above), managing director of F1 Academy.
“I would like to thank our broadcast partners for their support and commitment to bring F1 Academy to existing audiences and a new generation of fans around the world. We hope to inspire young girls and women at home and show them the possibilities in our sport, both on and off-track.”
F1 Academy filled the hole left by the collapse of W Series but, until now, it has been unable to replicate its predecessor’s reach. If anything, its debut season has represented more of a trial run than a fully-fledged junior series.
The demand is there for an all-female series: W Series’ event at Silverstone in 2022 scored a domestic audience of one million across pay-TV broadcaster Sky and free-to-air’s (FTA) Channel 4.
But the issue with F1 Academy – and it is a problem that plagued W Series before its demise – is that it doesn’t seem to know what it is trying to achieve.
When F1 Academy was first announced, the focus was on ensuring young female drivers were gaining the on-track experience that their male counterparts enjoy, with a Formula One statement reading: ‘The goal is to fill this gap and offer them access to more track time, racing and testing.’
Operating away from Formula One race weekends meant F1 Academy drivers had access to exactly that, but the trade off was little to no visibility. No live coverage means limited sponsorship opportunities for these young drivers, nowadays the most crucial factor on the road to Formula One.
Moving to Grand Prix weekends from 2024 will be great for the series’ visibility, and a docuseries with US-based production company Hello Sunshine will also help in this area, but racing alongside Formula One, Formula Two and Formula Three will mean a vast reduction in track time.
Hopefully a solution is found where F1 Academy avoids racing with all three series, but dedicated in-season testing events outside of the racing schedule are a necessity to show that Formula One is serious about developing women in motorsport.