Ferrari’s plan to add female drivers to Formula 1 junior programme not a marketing ploy

by Sudha Sundararaj

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari Team Principal, has said that the team plans to add more drivers to the Scuderia Ferrari Junior Driver Academy. Binotto said the team plans to add female drivers when they expand their roster of drivers in the future.

Binotto announced the new driver lineup for 2020 that includes such promising talent as Mick Schumacher, Arthur Leclerc, Giuliano Alesi and Enzo Fittipaldi. Charles Leclerc, a rising star in Formula 1, is a recent graduate of the academy.

Binotto said that the Italian team in a bid to “invest in the future” will increase the number of junior drivers in the programme. Binotto said: “A few other drivers will join. It’s something on which we are working very hard. So, we are pleased to know that.

“The Driver Academy is an important investment for us. [Ferrari F1 driver] Charles is the best example. We need to look at the future generation of talent for Ferrari.

“The Academy also looks for women in the future. Women should be part of the Ferrari Driver Academy. That’s something on which we are working right now to make sure that it may happen very soon.”

This announcement from Binotto was tagged as a marketing ploy and was met with some criticism on social media. There has been a serious quest in recent years to find female drivers to become part of Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport.

Susie Wolff as part of the Williams team drove in a few practice sessions in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Tatiana Calderone and Simona de Silvestro have been affiliated with Formula 1 teams in recent seasons.

Jamie Chadwick, the winner of the W Series title in its first season, will be the development driver for the Williams team in 2020. The women only W Series has divided the motorsport world with a lively debate on whether this helps or hinders the quest to find a female Formula 1 driver.

W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir defended Ferrari’s plans as more than just a marketing ploy. Bond Muir said: “Obviously I would hope that that driver [being supported by Ferrari] would come from W Series.

“I know that Ferrari have come into some flak on social media, but what we all have to remember is if we cast our minds back to a year ago, there weren’t very many women involved in motorsport at a high level.

“If you all look back to the amount of time that you were writing about women in motorsport, it was much, much less than it is now.

“I think that is what we have to applaud. What is happening is that the tide is rising for all women in motorsport. I think what Ferrari are trying to do is to help that tide to rise.

“I don’t think it is just a marketing plan, I think they really, genuinely want to see if they can get a woman into F1, and if they can attract a young superstar, and take them through their academy, and be the first team to get a [female] driver into F1, then frankly hats off to them.”

W Series has announced that it will expand to eight races for 2020 as it will be adding two new races to the six races of its inaugural season. The new races will be support races at the United States Grand Prix and the Mexican Grand Prix.

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