Women in F1: Drive to Equality

The W Series

Formula 1 is mainly known as a guys’ sport. Even the Netflix F1 show, ‘Drive to Survive’’ barely had any women in it. A group called Females in Motorsport (FIM) pointed out that women appeared in just 1.5% of the show.

Still, women have raced in F1 before, and now the sport wants to get more women involved through different series that would lead to F1.

Just this weekend, Marta Garcia won the inaugural F1 Academy title after taking a thrilling victory in Race 1 at the Circuit of The Americas, and a month ago, Jessica Hawkins became the first woman to drive a modern F1 car in almost five years.

History Of Women in F1

Women in F1: Drive to Equality
Source: The New York Times


Only five women have raced in a Formula 1 Grand Prix. Maria Teresa de Filippis was the first, in 1958. Then there’s Lella Lombardi, the only woman to score points in F1. She raced from 1974 to 1976 and finished sixth in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

In ’76, both Divina Galica and Lombardi tried to qualify for the British Grand Prix but didn’t make it. Desiré Wilson tried in 1980 and Giovanna Amati in 1992, but no women have tried since. However, there’s a push to get more women into motorsport and F1.

The W Series

The W Series
Source: Sky Sports


Started in 2019, the W Series aims to level the playing field for male and female drivers. All drivers race in the same type of car, so it’s all about skill. The first season had six races, and by 2021, it was up to eight races worldwide. It’s a chance for drivers to show what they’ve got on a mix of street and classic tracks.

The F1 Academy

THe F1 Academy
Source: Planet F1


In 2023, F1 started the F1 Academy to help female drivers climb the ranks. This program gives them more racing time and helps them get ready for the big leagues. For the first season, we’ve got fifteen drivers from five big-name teams. They’ll race in 21 races over seven rounds, with most on F1 tracks. Big brands like Pirelli are backing this, so it’s a big deal.

In 2024, Formula One teams are teaming up with the all-female F1 Academy. Each team will have their own chosen driver racing under their team name and rocking their colors.

What’s The Difference Between F1 Academy And W Series?

While the W Series is great, there was a need for another platform for women.

Here’s why:

  • Format: The F1 Academy offers a clearer progression path to Formula 3.
  • Teams & Cars: F1 Academy teams have a solid track record in other Formula championships. Plus, the cars they use are top-notch.
  • Funding: The FIA funds the F1 Academy, making it more stable. The W Series has had some funding challenges.

Women in F1 Racing

There’s still a journey ahead for women in the world of F1, but let’s spotlight three female racers who might just be the next big names on the track:

1. Jamie Chadwick

Jamie’s a three-time W Series champ and made waves by becoming the first woman to win the British GP Championship with her Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4. She’s also the first lady to claim a title at the British F3 at Brands Hatch.

2. Maya Weug

Maya stood out among 20 contenders in the FIA’s Girls on Track – Rising Stars program. She also clinched the WSK Cup in 2016 and made history by joining the Ferrari Driver Academy. Right now, she’s tearing it up in F4.

3. Abbi Pulling

2020 was a big year for Abbi. She raced full-time in the British Formula 4 Championship and took home four podium finishes. She also tried her hand at the Formula Renault Eurocup at Imola. Fast forward to 2021, and she was on the reserve list for the W Series, an all-female F3 championship. She even drove an F1 car at the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Women in F1 Off the Track

Hannah Schmitz

  • 🏁 Current role: Principal Strategy Engineer for Red Bull Racing
  • 🚺 One of the top female figures in Formula One
  • 🏆 Key contributor to Red Bull’s title charges in 2021, 2022 & 2023

Angela Cullen

Claire Williams

  • 🏎️👩‍💼 Deputy team principal of the Williams Formula One racing team from 2013 to 2020

Monisha Kaltenborn

  • 🏎️ Former team principal of Sauber Formula One team
  • 📊 Held a 33.3% stake in the team until the takeover by Longbow Finance S.A. in July 2016
  • 💼 Chief Executive Officer of the team from January 2010 until 22 June 2017