F1 will start racing series for women in 2023

Formula One women
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Formula One is launching a new racing series for women that will start next year.

The series, to be known as the F1 Academy, will be subsidized by F1 and is likely to be a support series for one weekend of the F1 season.

F1 said it would contribute funding of 150,000 euros ($156,000) per car “and will require the drivers to cover the same amount, which represents a fraction of the usual costs in a comparable series.”

They will represent teams that are currently involved in Formula Two or Formula Three. Speaking at the launch, F1 Academy manager Bruno Michel defended the costs involved in the new series and said there could be funding from established F1 teams too.

“From the first feedback I have from the teams, I don’t think we’re going to have issues to find drivers with this kind of quite reasonable budget,” Michel said. “I am quite sure as well that some of the Formula One academies are going to start to work on that and help funding this kind of money for the drivers as well.”

There will be 15 cars on the grid for a 21-race season split across seven rounds. The series will aim to recruit “young talent currently in go-karting or other junior categories” in the hope they can later graduate to Formula Three as a next step, and eventually compete in F1.

The announcement comes less than two months after another all-female event, the W Series, cut its season short due to financial problems.

The W Series has been free to enter for drivers, unlike the F1 Academy and most other developmental series that require young drivers to bring their own financial backing from family money, investors or sponsors. It also uses Formula Three cars rather than the modified Formula Four-specification cars planned for the F1 Academy.

W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said she believed the two events could coexist.

“W Series welcomes any initiative which shares our ambition to provide more opportunities for women in motorsport,” Bond Muir said in a statement.

“Our objective from the start has always been to increase the talent pool of women racing drivers, and the addition of the F1 Academy as a feeder to W Series and other series is a further step in inspiring the next generation to progress up the motorsport ladder.”

W Series ran into financial trouble this season and canceled its final three races in Mexico and the United States, to focus on raising funds for 2023. It has yet to publish a schedule for next season.

“We are looking forward to finalizing W Series’ plans for 2023 and beyond, providing exciting racing and entertaining our fans around the world,” Bond Muir said.

Five women have competed in F1, but none has done so for 30 years. Giovanna Amati was the most recent woman to officially enter an F1 event when she took part in qualifying for three races in 1992. Other female drivers have been involved in F1 testing since then. The last woman to start an F1 race was Lella Lombardi in 1976.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.