Why F1 Academy are to returns this week in Jeddah at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix; watch F1 Practice from Thursday, qualifying on Friday and the Grand Prix itself on Saturday


The last female driver to take part in an F1 weekend was F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff for Williams at the 2014 British GP, when she took part in Practice One.

Lella Lombardi is the last driver to race in the Grand Prix itself, in 1976, and she’s the only woman to score points when she finished sixth at the 1975 Spanish GP.

F1 Academy creates a smooth transition from karting up the F1 feeder series ladder, with the possibility of a woman racing in F1 in the future.

What is F1 Academy?

F1 Academy was launched in November 2022 by Formula 1 with the aim of preparing and developing female drivers to enable them to progress to higher levels of competition.

The category is designed to “give more access to track time, racing and testing, as well as support with technical, physical, and mental preparations”.


It is hoped the F1 Academy will provide the experience to progress to Formula 3, and help Formula 2 and Formula 1 opportunities in the future.

Susie Wolff, the former Williams F1 development driver and last woman to drive in an F1 practice session, is leading the series as managing director.

What happened in the inaugural season?

The inaugural F1 Academy season took place in 2023, with Prema driver Marta Garcia becoming the series’ first champion.

The Spaniard won seven races on her way to finishing 56 points clear of second-placed Lena Buhler in the standings.

Garcia has received a fully funded 2024 seat in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA), as has runner-up Buhler.

The highest British finisher in the inaugural season was Abbi Pulling in fifth, but it was 18-year-old Jessica Edgar who claimed the first race win by a Brit at the season finale in Austin.

How are F1 teams getting more involved this year?

In addition to all F1 Academy races taking place exclusively on F1 weekends and being televised, live on Sky Sports, in 2024, the 10 F1 teams will each have a female driver representing them.

The liveries of all 10 F1 teams will be on the supported driver’s car, so you will see the colours of Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and more.

Increasing female involvement in all areas of motor racing, both on and off track, is a major goal of F1 and the governing body of world motorsport, the FIA.

Who are the drivers and teams?

F1 Academy features five teams – ART, Campos, Rodin Carlin, MP Motorsport and Prema – each entering three cars to make up a 15-strong grid.

All five teams also race in Formula 3 and Formula 2 and have pedigree for bringing through young talent: Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are ART alumni, Lando Norris was given his F2 debut by Campos before racing for Carlin, Charles Leclerc and Mick Schumacher both won the F2 title with Prema while MP Motorsport had 2022 F2 champion Felipe Drugovich.

There will be a new F1 Academy champion as 2023 winner Garcia has moved to Formula Regional, with a wide-open title race expected.

Britain’s Pulling and Edgar remain in the series with Rodin Motorsport, with sisters Hamda Al Qubaisi and Amna Al Qubaisi returning for a second year.

Some exciting names have joined F1 Academy for 2024 including Lia Block, the daughter of off-road motorsport icon Ken Block.

There’s plenty of intrigue around Mercedes junior Doriane Pin after she won a race at the United Arab Emirates Formula 4 series last month and will make her F1 Academy debut this year.

McLaren’s Bianca Bustamante and Ferrari’s Maya Weug are also names to look out for this season.

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