F1 has announced the launch of an all-female driver academy, which will be introduced in 2023.
The aim is to propel more young women drivers into the higher levels of competition, which include the W Series, Formula 1, Formula 2, and Formula 3.
An initial five teams will be run by current F2 and F3 teams, and each will enter three cars to make up 15-car grids.
A series of seven events have been planned in the first season, with three races in each, meaning there will be a total of 21 races and 15 days of official testing. The full 2023 calendar will be announced in due course.
The idea of the W Series is to provide the best-possible showcase for female drivers, while the F1 Academy will give talented youngsters competing in either go-karting or other junior categories, a pathway to the series through more track time.
“That is why I am delighted to announce the F1 Academy that will give young female drivers the best chance to fulfil their ambitions through a comprehensive programme that supports their racing careers and gives them everything they need to move into F3 and hopefully to F2 and then the pinnacle of Formula 1.
“The more opportunity there is the better and this is designed to provide another route for the drivers to succeed.”
Formula 1’s Head of Sustainability Ellen Jones added: “In 2019 we launched our sustainability and diversity & inclusion strategy and made a commitment to build a more diverse and inclusive sport, breaking down the stereotypes associated with a career in motorsports and encouraging people from all backgrounds to get involved.
“I am very excited to launch this new category,” added F1 Academy manager Bruno Michel. “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.
“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.”
The current F1 season comes to its conclusion in Abu Dhabi this weekend, with the race itself taking place on Sunday.