New Formula One Academy is hoping to ‘break down barriers’ for gender equality in motorsport

Formula One has announced an all-women series which will begin this year to help ‘develop and prepare’ young female drivers to progress further in motorsport.

The academy will feature seven events with 21 races in total kicking off in Austria in April.

Female Formula finalist Vikki Campbell says that the academy is a “fantastic opportunity” for young girls in grassroots karting and higher levels of motorsport and she feels that this will be a great chance for women to receive more recognition in the high-profile sport.

She said: “ If we keep going, we are breaking those barriers each more every day and if we are all pushing together as a big community like we are doing now, I feel like why we can’t be up there at the top-level motorsport.”

From Atherton Manchester, Campbell entered Formula Female 12 months ago and made it to the final in Sweden out of 1000 applicants.

Vikki Campbell before her trip to the Formula Woman final in Sweden / Credit: Vikki Campbell

The 37-year-old unfortunately missed out on a seat fat her chances of competing.

“I was so full of anxiety and myself worth was really low and to be with all them women who are so talented and then me it was so honourable. To be stood with them ten women I was so grateful. Like in my eyes I had just won.”

Motor racing runs in the family.

Her husband Lee, with who she has three daughters, aged two, eight and 14, is a racing driver for MINI Challenge Clubsport who inspires Campbell both on and off track: “My husband he’s really good at pushing me and obviously all the other people that inspire you and all the racing drivers.”

Current UK North total karting zero champion Daniella Sutton also said that the F1 academy will be help to ‘progress further in my career’ as a young female Karter.

The 14-year-old from Warrington, has been karting since the age of six and competes nationally in the Daniel Ricciardo Series UK and is later to compete in the British Kart Championships.

A couple of years ago, the young talent was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and her motorsport career became under pressure to succeed.

Daniella takes to Twitter to show her motivation to win

Sutton said: “At first, we didn’t know as a family what it was, but we noticed that something wasn’t right, and we went to the doctors and eventually when I got diagnosed, I cried.

“It is quite an overwhelming feeling being diagnosed with something that is life changing but it was my motivation to carry on in motorsport because you have to stay fit otherwise your joints aren’t supported by the muscles.”

Sutton is wanting to compete in F4 next year and hoping that when the opportunity for the F1 academy comes forward to her – she’ll take it.

Daniella Sutton podium finish in the Daniel Ricciardo Series UK / Credit: Dan Sutton

The all-female championship will have a provided fund from Formula One of £130,000 for each car which will be matched by the drivers when they enter but the rest of the budget will have to be provided by the teams.

With funding being a huge factor within motorsport from sponsors to maintenance, Sutton’s dream of moving into F4 will cost her between £200,000 and £500,000 but with valuable sponsorships this support will mean the most.

She said: “It is much harder to get through and make motorsport a career because funding is a big barrier so unless you have the funding needed to get your way through its very hard to get through.”

Currently, only around eight per cent of registered racing license holders are women according to studies taken in 2021.

Campbell hopes that this will happen when she said: “Any woman that can stand up in that male dominated work whether it be F1 or any other motorsport it can be really intimidating and to have that strong woman who gets the backing of the men. We all are equal, and we are breaking those stereotypes.”