July 20, 2024

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F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff is leading the fight for more women in Formula 1

2 min read

There’s no rule barring women from competing in Formula 1, but you can still only count on two hands how many times a woman has sat in the cockpit of a car boasting to be the fastest of any in motorsport.

First, there was Maria Teresa de Filippis, the first woman to race in F1 when she finished 10th place in the Belgian Grand Prix in 1958. Lella Lombardi was the first woman to score points in the racing series in 1975, and Giovanna Amati was the last woman entered in an F1 World Championship in 1992.

Then there was Susie Wolff, who helmed the FW36 car during a practice session of the German Grand Prix in 2014 and was the last of her gender to take part in a prestigious F1 race weekend. Her fastest lap time was only two-tenths slower than teammate and 11-time grand prix winner Felipe Massa.

Wolff hung up her helmet in 2015 after she conceded she’d never be an F1 driver, but her racing state of mind hasn’t left her. The former racing driver—who’s competed in single-seater championships like Formula Renault, Formula 3, and Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM)—is now the managing director of F1 Academy, an all-women racing series started in 2023. With 15 women drivers competing on seven circuits over the course of the season, F1 Academy has the opportunity to flood the male-dominated sport with true prospects for F1’s first woman world champion. 

This weekend, F1 Academy will race as a support series to F1’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, with F1’s event expected to bring in about 280,000 attendees across the weekend. Not only will the all-women racing series be putting the talent of up-and-coming racers on display; with women composing 40% of F1’s fan base, F1 Academy is creating a new blueprint for generations of racers to come.

“This was once-in-a-lifetime chance to actually drive positive, impactful change in the sport,” Wolff told Fortune. “It really felt like a moment where we stopped talking, and we’re actually…

Sasha Rogelberg

2024-06-22 08:58:00

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