top of page
  • Writer's pictureAdéla Pavlovská

Attending F1 Academy's race weekend

After having an opportunity to attend F1 Academy's race weekend in Monza, what is my verdict on this ambitious project?

Motorsports have traditionally been a male-dominated field, but over the last decade, more and more women are choosing to participate, thanks to series such as W Series and Extreme E. The W Series was an all-female racing series that was launched in 2019. Since its inaugural season, W Series has been a driving force for greater diversity and representation. However, some critics argued that it was a form of segregation undermining the progress made by female drivers in the sport.

The F1 Academy is a new initiative launched by Formula 1 to help young female talents move up the junior single-seater ladder more easily. At the start, the F1 Academy has prioritized track time and no broadcast coverage - this has changed as F1 Academy is now available to the television spectators. Alongside Formula 2 & Formula 3 teams, Formula 1 teams are also participating with each having their driver to represent them. The first ever champion of the series, Marta García, is currently competing in Formula Regional.

In July 2023, I attended the 6 Hours of Monza with F1 Academy as one of the supporting series. Because I have been curious about the new all-female series from the beginning, I was ecstatic to see what F1 Academy is really about. In this article, I would like to share my experience with you and give my personal view on this still enigmatic feeder series. The photos used are mine.

MP Motorsport's garage

For the record, I had access to the paddock area on Friday and Saturday. Furthermore, I watched Race 1 & 2 (both taking place on Saturday) from the grandstand. Three racing series supported WEC in Monza: F3 Classic, Alfa Revival Cup, and F1 Academy. The last mentioned, in my opinion, drew the most attention and had curious observers in the paddock as well as on the stands.

F1 Academy's paddock area

F1 Academy shared the paddock with other supporting series in the area right next to the WEC’s paddock. It was free to enter on Friday and available for those with a VIP paddock pass on Saturday. When the drivers weren’t in the cockpits, it wasn’t difficult to bump into someone for a photo or a chat. Especially before and after sessions, there was a perfect opportunity to take a closer look at the cars with the Tatuus F4-T421 chassis, which has been used in Formula 4 championships since 2022. Or watch the drivers getting ready to hit the track.

When it comes to the number of spectators, more people watched Race 1 than Race 2. It was understandable since the second race took place in the early evening hours - it was the last event of the day. The stands weren't as crowded as at the start of the 6 Hours of Monza, where it felt as if the whole of Italy attended, but neither completely vacant. I unfortunately didn’t watch Race 3, but I can assume that, since it was not long before the WEC race, there were maybe the most people watching as they were slowly gathering to find the best seats. They could also witness the home race win for Prema, thanks to Bianca Bustamante.

My first impression of F1 Academy was extremely positive; it surprised me how much I enjoyed it. Actually, I feel a bit sad that this was probably the only time I would watch the series this year. The races are short, which has its positives as well as negatives. There was a fair share of overtakes and contacts in all parts of the grid. A dull moment? Never heard of her. There is really no difference between this series and other ones. It doesn’t matter if the person in the car is a man or woman, the racing looks identical. Genius moves and opportunistic manoeuvres - F1 Academy had it all. The track’s layout helped since the slipstream was a powerful tool. Therefore, we could see tight racing as the drivers were unable to break away, closely following each other. In fact, the margin between the winner of Race 1, Marta García, and Lena Bühler on the finish line was mind-blowing 0.009s. The margin between the three Carlins fighting for the last podium place was 0.016s. The other exciting feature is the grid reversal for Race 2, which always shakes things up, and offers more action to the spectators.

As it was mentioned before, F1 Academy is on a level with the F4 championships, equipped with all the safety apparatus. That came in handy in Race 1, where a huge collision involving several drivers occurred on Lap 1. It was truly a bone-chilling moment to see Chloe Grant’s car upside down with flames peeking out and then an ambulance rushing on the main straight without having enough information. Luckily, Grant walked out of the incident but had to withdraw from the rest of the race weekend. She later thanked the system halo for saving her life, together with Bianca Bustamante, who was also involved in the accident.

F1 Academy is a no one-woman-show as we have seen with Jamie Chadwick in the W Series. Although Marta García is leading the championship by a margin, other drivers are also winning races, such as the Al-Qubaisi sisters, Lena Bühler, Bianca Bustamante… After all, there were three different winners in three races we witnessed in Monza, which only proves how competitive the F1 Academy grid is.

The first year of this series is all about learning and establishing, and the second season will be the real make-or-break. Female drivers will hopefully get more recognition and attention not only from Formula 1 teams but also sponsors, which is crucial for women in motorsport to be taken seriously. Despite living in the shadow for now, F1 Academy has what it takes to make an impact and build a lasting legacy.



Ivory Beige Minimalist Typography Logo.png

Thanks for checking us out!

Let the posts
come to you.

Thanks for submitting!

  • Instagram - Bílý kruh
  • Twitter - Bílý kruh
bottom of page