F1 Academy: A Review of The Championship Debut
Marta García and Amna Al Qubaisi won in the debut round of the F1 Academy, a new championship for female drivers. García won the first and third races of the F1 Academy at the Red Bull Ring, while Al Qubaisi won the second race with an inverted grid. The drivers had competed in other series such as W Series and the Italian Formula 4. However, with the creation of this new FIA championship at the end of last year, the two drivers joined other great female names in the motorsport world, such as Susie Wolff, and are part of the premiere cast of the F1 Academy.
Image: Driver Marta García celebrates her first win in F1 Academy, F1 Academy
The F1 Academy was created to become an access series with the goal of closing the gap for girls and young women drivers, as well as, reducing obstacles in the sport. The championship aims to follow and become an ultimate feeder series for Formula 1 in 2024, as F2 and F3 currently do, so that girls and young women have greater recognition and more opportunities for growth within motorsport.
How the championship works
The F1 Academy started on April 28th and 29th in Austria, and has six more rounds across Europe and the United States. Each round has 3 races:
Positions for the Race 1 are defined according to the Qualifying 1 session
The first eight finishers in Qualifying 1 will start Race 2 in reverse order, while cars finishing in 9th position and below will start in position they qualified in that session
Positions for the Race 3 are defined according to the Qualifying 2 session
The championship is made up of 5 teams and each with 3 drivers. The teams are the same as in Formula 2 and 3 - for instance, Prema Racing, MP Motorsport and Art GrandPrix are some of the teams - and have well-known drivers such as Spaniard Marta García, who raced in the W Series, and Emirati Hamda Al Qubaisi, who race for the Italian F4 and was the first woman to get a podium in the series.
F1 Academy's start
In November of 2022, Formula 1 announced the debut of a new 100% female championship that would have FIA's and Formula 1's full support. The championship was created to be a transition between karting and the first all-female motorsport championship, W Series. However, the announcement came at a controversial time shortly after W Series' bankruptcy. In the past few months, motorsport fans have raised all sorts of speculations, with the most serious being that this attitude would be deliberate so that women would be trapped in female series and could not evolve within motorsport.
Although there is no formal evidence for such speculations, the championship once again attracted motorsport fans' negative comments due to the lack of streaming. As of today, fans cannot watch F1 Academy live. After many requests, the organization has manifested itself and confirmed that only the race start and best moments would be published later on F1 Academy's YouTube and its other social networks. Additionally, the organization highlighted that the only current way that fans can follow the races is through live timing on the championship's official website.
Solutions for the championship
In a way, the streaming problem is not too complicated for Formula 1 to solve in a practical way. As the championship has plans to be a feeder to the main series, it is important that Formula 1 fans can watch the races and become familiar with the young women drivers. Liberty Media's streaming platform and F1TV PRO are options to solve the transmission problems. From another perspective, it is necessary that Formula 1 handles the criticism in a constructive way so that F1 Academy doesn't become a series that was born and set to fail.