Formula 1‘s F1 Academy launched a new initiative, Discover Your Drive, with the target of developing and increasing female motorsport talents.
The initiative will kick off in the United Kingdom with the F1 Academy Discover you Drive Karting UK, that will feature six venues in 2023 to develop young female go-karters.
The program will expand to 38 in 2024, and will become globally as well.
Formula 1 Official Statement
F1 Academy has today launched F1 Academy Discover Your Drive, a global initiative aimed at increasing the female talent pool in motorsport both on and off track.
With a focus on the four pillars of Youth Engagement, Talent Identification, Participation & Progression, and Community, the initiative will offer girls and young women the opportunity to take part in entry-level programmes and professional schemes to promote and enhance female participation in the sport.
The first talent identification programme to launch will be F1 Academy Discover Your Drive Karting UK, a national programme to find and nurture the next generation of young female karters.
The programme will be operated by Motorsport UK, the governing body for four wheeled motorsport in the UK, utilising the organisations experience in talent development through its Academy programme, and TeamSport Karting, which operates 35 karting venues across the country.
Recent statistics show that around 45,000 young girls visit TeamSport venues every year, but only a small percentage ever progress to competition. Of the 2,275 cadets aged 8-12 in the TeamSport Race Academy, only 146 cadets are girls. The disparity further increases at senior level with only 5% of all Motorsport UK race licence holders being female.
F1 Academy Discover Your Drive Karting UK will address this, acting as a gateway to motorsport for young girls, making them more aware of the opportunities available and removing the barriers that often inhibit girls to compete.
This new pilot programme, which will be rolled out at six venues across the UK for the remainder of 2023, will see the participants supported through the qualifying stages of the Motorsport UK sanctioned British Indoor Karting Championships – an entry level for many British drivers – after completing their training.
The programme aims to scale up to all 35 TeamSport venues across the UK next year.
In 2024, F1 Academy will be a support series to Formula 1 and F1 Academy Discover Your Drive will also run activations around the world in the days leading up to races. These events will engage local communities and invite girls aged 8-18 to attend a variety of workshops and activities to inspire them to consider a future in motorsport. More information on these activities will be announced in due course.
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.”
Hugh Chambers, CEO of Motorsport UK said: “We are extremely proud to have been involved in the creation of this initiative with F1 Academy. Sports such as football and rugby have invested heavily in developing junior female talent at entry level and the respective programmes are now yielding fantastic results, with UK athletes competing and winning major accolades on the international stage. We believe F1 Academy Discover Your Drive Karting UK will kickstart the same process within the UK. We hope to show young girls that motorsport is accessible and fun and support them on their journey, whether to compete in motorsport or to follow a professional career in multiple disciplines.”
Dom Gaynor, CEO of TeamSport Karting said: “TeamSport is delighted to be working with F1 Academy and Motorsport UK on the F1 Academy Discover Your Drive Karting UK initiative. With over 1.8 million drivers racing at TeamSport tracks each year, we are in a fantastic position to identify and develop young female racing talent in the UK.”