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F1 Academy 101: Everything you need to know ahead of the 2024 season

Written by Sophie Harvey, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

The return of F1 Academy is almost upon us — with plenty of big names, new rules and promising talent, the all-female series is bigger and better than ever. Whether you’re an established fan or an enthusiastic rookie, this guide should answer all your lingering questions and prepare you for another exciting season of international single-seater action.

Image Credit - Jared C. Tilton/Formula 1

What is F1 Academy?

Describing itself as an ‘ambitious new project from Formula 1 to develop and prepare female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition’, F1 Academy intends to remedy the lack of female representation in the upper echelons of motorsport. 

As an all-female F4 series, it aims to have driver development and support at the forefront of its mission. Most notably, the entry fee is significantly lower than the competition’s counterparts — eliminating the financial concerns of sponsorship and funding, which usually end drivers’ careers all too soon. 

To add to this, the series offers additional track time and testing alongside mental and physical coaching, to ensure that these women are performing to the best of their ability. By supporting young drivers as they transition between karting and single-seaters, F1 Academy is nurturing the next generation of promising talent, encouraging them to aspire higher.

Last year, we saw Spain’s Marta Garcia crowned as our inaugural F1 Academy Champion after an incredible campaign. Garcia clinched the title with seven victories, creating a points-lead that proved unassailable by her nearest competitors — Lena Buhler and Hamda Al Qubaisi. 

As a result of her F1 Academy showings, Garcia earned herself a fully-funded season in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA), proving that unlike the now defunct W Series, F1 Academy is actually making the effort to be progressive and encouraging of female drivers taking their next steps up the feeder series ladder.

Amongst last year’s action, around half of the grid found the top step and secured their wins. The championship proved to be incredibly competitive — with many returning candidates and new faces all looking to claim this year's title, there is plenty to look forward to this time around. 

Marta Garcia, reigning F1 Academy Champion; Image Credit - Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Who’s involved?

Reporting to General Manager Bruno Michel alongside F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali, Susie Wolff takes on the role of F1 Academy’s Managing Director. 

The Scotswoman entered the position with a wealth of motorsport experience — from Williams Racing development driver to Formula E Team Principal, Wolff understands the world of racing from both a business and driver perspective. 

As the first woman to participate in a Formula 1 weekend since 1992, she also recognises what it really takes to reach the pinnacle of motorsport.

As for drivers, F1 Academy has collated a grid of 15 promising female talents. Entering their debut season, we have the likes of Extreme E’s Lia Block and ‘Pocket Rocket’ Doriane Pin. Hoping for another shot at the title is our highest-placed returning candidate, Hamda Al Qubaisi, alongside fellow returnees Abbi Pulling and Bianca Bustamante.

F1 Academy has selected teams with successful pedigrees across the junior formula categories: PREMA Racing, MP Motorsport, ART Grand Prix, Rodin Motorsport and Campos Racing. Each outfit has extensive experience in supporting and nurturing talent, providing the perfect outlet for these drivers.

What does a typical race weekend look like?

Last year, Domenicali announced that the 2024 F1 Academy season would exclusively take place on select Formula 1 weekends as part of its support bill, similar to that of FIA F2 and F3. 

Likewise, the series’ race weekend will span three days, consisting of two 40-minute practice sessions, one 30-minute qualifying session and two 30-minute races. Each driver’s fastest lap will set the grid for race one, with their second fastest lap setting the order for race two respectively.

F1 Academy allocates points in an identical way to Formula 1, awarding the top ten finishers for their efforts — scoring 25 points for first place, 18 for second and so on. An additional ‘fastest lap’ point is given to the driver who navigates the circuit the quickest, providing they classify within the top ten, and complete over 50% of the scheduled race distance.

Kicking off at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Saudi Arabia, the calendar intends to cover three continents, visiting a mixture of both traditional racetracks and street circuits.

Returning for a second year are the likes of Zandvoort and Barcelona, whilst Miami, Qatar and Singapore are new names to the roster. After seven rounds of racing action, the championship will conclude at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi – an appropriate ending to the series’ sophomore season.

The calendar that awaits F1 Academy’s 2024 grid; Image Credit - F1 Academy

What’s new for 2024?

In the second half of last year, the championship announced one of its biggest changes — all ten Formula 1 teams would be expected to sponsor a driver to formulate the 2024 grid. 

Not only has this been a fantastic way to get women seen and recognised, but it has also encouraged team’s to invite these highly talented individuals into their driver academies. This allows the drivers to receive even more support whilst driving a car carrying their respective team’s livery.

Alongside the sea of new faces and sponsors, the series has also had quite the shake-up to its rulebook since the season concluded last October. The most recent developments have been the introduction of wildcard drivers, super license points, and the two-year rule:  

  • Wildcard drivers will be operated by constructor’s champions, PREMA Racing. Young women from the race’s host country will be invited as race entrants — eligible to score points in the driver’s championship, but not for the team. 

  • Those who finish within the top five of the driver’s championship will all collect pivotal super license points. These points are incredibly important in securing an FIA Super License — a driver’s qualification that allows the holder to compete in the Formula 1 World Championship.

  • As part of an additional update, F1 Academy’s Sporting Regulations now specify that drivers can only compete in the series for a maximum of two seasons. This ensures that there will always be opportunities within the competition for exciting prospects, who have risen through either the karting or single-seater ranks.

Image Credit - Alex Caparros/Formula 1

What will they drive?

F1 Academy is a spec series — a championship that uses identical or very similar vehicles, usually from the same manufacturer and suppliers. This puts the driver’s capabilities and car setup at the forefront of success, allowing those who would otherwise lack the budget needed for a faster, competitive car, to showcase raw talent and skill.

As an F4-level competition, each driver will use a Tatuus F4-T421 chassis and 13-inch tyres provided by Pirelli. This specification has been used in globally-established F4 series since 2022 — including but not limited to the likes of F4 UAE, British F4, Formula Winter Series and the F4 Brazilian Championship. 

Supplied by Autotecnica, each chassis will be powered by a turbo-charged 1.4 litre four-cylinder engine, capable of delivering 174 horsepower at 5500 rpm.

Where can I watch?

Unlike last year, F1 Academy will be broadcast LIVE for fans. Although the official streaming schedule is yet to be released, information as to where you can watch the series in your region will soon be published on the following link:

Image Credits - Adam Pretty/Formula 1

And there you have it — everything you need to know ahead of the 2024 F1 Academy season, summarised in one handy article. There is not long to go until the championship is underway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, so mark your calendars and give these women a watch!


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