Ferrari Takes Female Lead In F1

Ferrari Takes Female Lead In F1

Lella Lombardi is still the only woman to have finished in the points in a Formula One world championship race, but Ferrari and FIA have plans to update the scoreboard.

They are establishing a ‘Girls of Track’ initiative to help young female drivers to learn what is required and potentially help them reach Formula 1 if they have what it takes.

The scheme will reward the best female drivers between the ages of 12 and 16 with a chance to be part of the Ferrari Driver Academy.

If all goes to plan there will be a competition between 25 drivers at the historic Winfield Racing School, which has groomed a long string of grand prix winners including multiple world champion Alain Prost, at Paul Ricard in October.

There are many women in the F1 paddock, including deputy team principal Claire Williams and former Williams test driver and Formula E team principal Susie Wolff.

But only two women have ever qualified for F1 races: Maria Teresa de Filippis, who started three races in the 1950s; and Lella Lombardi, who raced 12 times in the 1970s, scoring half a point by finishing sixth in the shortened Spanish GP in 1975.

Wolff and Simona de Silvestro have both driven in open Formula One tests, and Wolff was a regular in Free Practice on Fridays for a while with Williams, but only Divina Galica, Desiré Wilson and Giovanna Amati have tried – but failed – to qualify for races.

The Ferrari-FIA initiative will take a dozen of this year’s finalists to karting and Formula 4 training camps before the best four are chosen and the best candidate(s) will be offered a place on the Ferrari scheme – as well as a Formula 4 race drive.

“We are firm believers in the value of helping youngsters develop in motorsport,” says Ferrari team boss, Mattia Binotto.

“The FDA has been operating for over a decade now, not just purely and simply selecting the best drivers, but also working on their cultural, technical and ethical education. With this in mind, we felt we had to make a further effort to expand our area of operation to include female youngsters who want to get on in motorsport.

“Although there is no actual barrier to their participation, we are aware that it is harder for women to progress in this field. That is why we have responded enthusiastically to the FIA initiative and we believe that we can help introduce even more young women to this fantastic sport.

“Who knows, maybe one day we will once again see a woman competing in a Formula 1 World Championship race for the first time since 1976.”

There are no women at the two top levels of single-seater racing at the moment, as former Alfa Romeo test driver Tatiana Calderon has now moved on to Super Formula in Japan.

Simon de Silvestro, who tested impressively with Sauber before her time in Supercars in Australia, is now a Porsche factory driver.

So the closest to the top is Germany’s Sophia Flörsch, who is due to race this season in the FIA Formula 3 Championship once that series gets underway in Austria, although W Series champion Jamie Chadwick is also highly regarded and will attempt back-to-back series wins when the W Series eventually resumes in 2021.