The Impact of Susie Wolff on the F1 Academy
Written by Isabel Brito, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Susie Wolff’s appointment as Managing Director of the Formula 1 academy comes with plenty of responsibility, and a lot of eyes will be on her involvement in the series. However, Wolff is not short of racing experience, and is a completely capable candidate for the job, having been an exceptional driver in Formula Renault, Formula three, DTM, and even driving in a Free Practice session for Williams in Formula 1. She also has leadership skills, on display in Formula E as team principal of the Rokit Venturi team, and now as managing director of the new F1 Academy series.
Wolff has always been one to encourage and inspire women to be included not only in the higher levels, but in all aspects of motorsport. Through Dare to be Different, launched in 2016, she managed to increase female participation in the sport by encouraging girls aged between eight and 14 to be more involved in racing activities. Alongside various ambassadors, Dare to be Different has partnered with the FIA to achieve a larger goal to open up more opportunities for females in the sport.
And coming to F1 Academy, it is an all-female racing series featuring five teams, with 15 female drivers going head-to-head across 21 races. Each race weekend consists of two 40-minute free practice sessions, followed by two 15-minute qualifying sessions. Race weekends also feature three races, the grid set in the following format:
Race 1: The grid will be set from the results of the first qualifying session. Points will be awarded to drivers finishing in the top ten.
Race 2: The top eight from the first qualifying session will be reversed for this race. Points will be awarded to the top eight finishers.
Race 3: The grid will be set by the results of the second qualifying sessions. As is the case for race one, points will be awarded to the top 10 finishers.
Stefano Domenicali stated, “We are committed to maximizing the opportunities in our sport for anyone to reach their true potential and achieve their dreams and we believe F1 Academy is a very important part of our plans to be a more diverse and inclusive sport.“ (Source: Formula 1) and this is set to be one of the most important goals for the sport. Over the years, motorsport has struggled to be inclusive to both men and women, as a whole. This holds strong in today’s world, especially for women, considering the sparse female representation in top-tier motorsport. It’s very important for the growth of the sport to always strive for diversity and inclusivity.
In addition to Domenicali’s statement, Wolff talked about promoting and inspiring change in the industry, “The F1 Academy presents an opportunity to promote genuine change in our industry by creating the best possible structure to find and nurture female talent on their journey to the elite levels of motorsport, both on and off the racetrack.”
“There is a lot of work to be done but there is also a clear determination to get this right. In doing so, I believe the F1 Academy can represent something beyond racing. It can inspire women around the world to follow their dreams and realize that with talent, passion and determination, there is no limit to what they can achieve.” (Source: Formula 1)
Her determination to change the sport for the better is truly admirable.. Motorsport has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, and this is just another area of growth, work, opportunities, and passion. Susie’s experience and knowledge are on their way to create a space of harmony and inclusivity throughout the sport.
Personally, I can’t wait to see this series evolve, into what I believe could be so much greater than it already is, women put in the position of being able to share their experiences, inspire, aspire, and to give the sport a voice from a different perspective. I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of impact and change this truly means for the world of sports.
With the start of this season fast approaching, Susie Wolff is nothing but a symbol, and a beacon of light to not only the young women driving in this series, but also to the girls that aspire to be as great as her, and the drivers, one day. All over the world, there are young women waiting for their opportunity to shine and show off their talent, but showing the world that giving up is not an option in this sport will surely create a massive impact in the industry.