Apr.28 - The new female-only 'F1 Academy' support series kicks off this weekend in Austria, but series chief Susie Wolff admits it could be a decade before a woman is on the Formula 1 grid.

"I believe it's eight to 10 years away from happening," the wife of Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, and a former Williams test driver, told the Guardian.

"That's not just because we are lacking the female talent pool and lacking those who progress through the sport, but also because of the realisation that getting to F1 is incredibly tough.

"It's tough for all of the male drivers," Wolff added.

"There are only 20 spots on the grid and that's why it is going to take time."

The cars are powered by a 174 horsepower engine, with the series actually designed to help female drivers "progress to Formula 3" and "join the road to F1".

Wolff says there simply has to be more girls and women interested in chasing a Formula 1 dream.

"It will be a very slow process and the numbers are not shifting with any great significance," she said. "The talent pool is too small, so the best are not rising to the top."

The inaugural race at the Red Bull Ring this weekend will not be shown live on television, but the champion will receive financial backing.

"It is not even questionable that the winner won't progress in the sport," said Wolff. "There is such a passion from Stefano Domenicali and the F1 group to see this be successful.

"It's not just a box-ticking exercise which is what I have had in many other conversations on diversity."

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7 F1 Fan comments on “F1 Academy aims to help female drivers progress to Formula 3

  1. David Gladwin

    Didn't the 'W' series come to a grinding halt? It was supposed to lead onwards and upwards. Strangely we had excellent women rally drivers, as well as navigators and that is a far more brutal life than F1. My wife was twitchy for day or so after each rally whereas when we were tatting about in single seater racing she was full of beans.

  2. John Sheridan

    So many very talented young girls excel in go karts, but this is where their career ends. Many countries do not have a cost effective series to progress to the next level. The pathways are just not there. This issue also effects young male drivers as well. Hopefully we can get some TV coverage for this series to help promote it, we need more females competing in all levels of motorsport.

  3. shroppyfly

    With W It was run as a separate entity from liberty , ie private finance , i believe anyway, and hence liberty let it run out of money after maybe/maybe not proving the concept , Now I believe although i could be wrong its method of finance is more secure

  4. Fran Jippany

    IMO there should not be a race category where eligibility to participate is determined by the driver's gender. All categories of motor racing should be open to anyone, regardless of gender.
    If you are good enough and you display skills at the appropriate level, and can attract adequate sponsorship, then gender must not be part of the equation.
    In this era when equality is preached and supposedly practised by everyone, it is counter productive to have a series that is permitted for one gender only! Neither F3, nor F2, nor F1 are single gender classification. If your skills are good enough and you can achieve sponsorship to support you then you can compete in any of those formulae, regardless of your gender.

      • Fran Jippany

        Of course there are a few exceptions, which I think can be classified as heavy body contact sports such a rugby, soccer, hockey, wrestling, basketball, where the bulk of male bodies places us at a definite disadvantage.

        Sports such as motor racing do not rely on the bulk of someone's body to be competitive. In fact, the heavier the person the slower the car will go! No reason why a woman should not be able to compete with men in motor racing. It's all about skills and strategy.


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