Rising Stars Profile Vol.1 – Jessica Edgar & Maya Weug

In June, The FIA and its Women in Motorsport Commission announced the launch of “FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars” program, where 20 young female drivers will participate in a selection program. The selection consists of a shoot-out in October at Paul Ricard, Karting and F4 training camps in October and November, a one-week course at the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA). The best out of the program could be awarded a one-year contract to join the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) programme for an FIA Formula 4 season in 2021.

We reached out to the drivers participating in the program (we are still in the process of getting all of them) and had a quick Q&A about their career so far. From this week, we will give you two drivers every Thursday.

Let’s check out Jessica Edgar and Maya Weug’s story this week.

Jessica Edgar

Jessica Edgar is 15 years old from the UK. She is the great granddaughter, granddaughter, daughter, sister, cousin of a driver. But most important of all, she is a driver herself.
In 2019, Jessica represented the UK in the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games. In 2020, she was accepted into Motorsport UK Academy.

Photos © Chris Walker (kartpix.net)

Paddock Sorority (PS): Can you tell us about your first exposure to motorsport and how you started karting?

Jessica Edgar (JE): My first exposure to motorsport was watching my dad race karts.  We used to go as a family each weekend up and down the country. Dad won British Championships on numerous occasions. I started karting when I was 4 years old.  My first time out on the track was at our local circuit at Rowrah. Dad took me to the track and set me off with a tow rope attached to the kart and ran around behind me, so I didn’t take off!

Jessica at at Rowrah circuit

PS: Do you remember your first experience in a go-kart? How was it?

JE: I can’t remember my first time out in a kart, although I can remember going to my first race in bambino at Fulbeck with my cousin Jonny (Jonny Edgar, Red Bull Junior since 2017). This came about as I was staying with my Uncle Justin, Auntie Sally and cousins Jo and Jonny because my Little Brother Jorge took ill when he was 4 days old and was taken into hospital the other side of the country. My Uncle thought it would be a good idea to take me to a race to take my mind off me being away from Mum and Dad.

PS: What made you decide you want a career as a professional driver? Currently what’s your career goal as a driver?

JE: I decided I wanted a career in motorsport when I moved into Mini X30 in 2018.  I accumulated some good results in the British Championships and LGM series and my confidence grew. I’d like to at least compete in W Series and fingers crossed into F1.

PS: Is there a racing idol for you? How have they impacted you and your racing?

JE: I don’t have any specific idols but I look up to my cousin Jonny as I’ve been watching him race since we were in bambino and followed his progress from karting to car racing. In the early days of my racing he gave me a lot of help and tips.

Jessica with cousin Jonny and brother Jorge at PFI

PS: How are your family supporting you in your career?

JE: My Mum and Dad come with me to all the races along with my Little Brother Jorge who also races karts.  My Grandparents on both sides of the family come to a lot of the races to watch. My Granda Terry and Grandma Win used to race karts so can also give me lots of advice and help. We have a four-generation-old family business that is one of my sponsors, J Edgar & Son. My name had to start with a ‘J’ to fit in with the family tradition of J.Edgar!!

PS: Is there more pressure or motivation for you with four generations of racing heritage?

JE: I don’t feel any additional pressure because of my family history of the sport.The only pressure is what I put on myself trying to get a successful result.

PS: What has been your best memory in your career so far?

JE: My best memory in my career is winning the double header British Championship at Wigan as both days in the heats we had set backs but managed to come through and win the finals on both days.  I especially enjoyed it as the whole of my family were there to watch.

Jessica’s win at at Wigan during British Championship

PS: How are you preparing for the shoot-out in October?

JE: I’m keeping up my usual fitness training, doing the Motorsport Academy Porsche fitness and through lockdown we have been doing group fitness training on zoom with my team Fusion Motorsport.  I also use the same fitness trainer my dad used back in his karting days. I go to the training sessions twice a week at the local sports centre. As we are coming out of lockdown racing is starting to resume which will help to keep me sharp. I am a member of the MSUK Academy Squad, which will be working closely with me to improve all the aspects of racing on and off the track.


Maya Weug

16-year-old Maya Weug was born and raised in Spain with Dutch father and Belgian mother. Maya started karting when she was 7, and she is now the BirelArt factory team driver competing in WSK Euro Series in OK class. Maya was selected for the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy in 2018.

© Photos provided by Maya Weug unless otherwise noted

Paddock Sorority (PS): Can you tell us about your first exposure to motorsport and how you started karting?

Maya Weug (MW): I would watch my dad’s races as he used to kart as a hobby. I liked it but I wasn’t really into it. I wasn’t watching other races. I started karting myself when I was 7. I started because I got a kart for Christmas. My brother and I went to the track nearby and since then I’ve always karted.  Now I’m getting good at it and I’m really happy to be still in the motorsport world.

PS: Do you remember your first experience in a go-kart? How was it?

MW: The first time I was in the kart, I remember they told me to go slowly because the tires were really cold. So I was really slow. I think you could run next to it and still overtake me. That was the first memory I had.

7-year-old Maya in a kart for the first time

PS: What made you decide you want a career as a professional driver? Currently what’s your career goal as a driver?

MW: My first race at regional level, I got 2nd. Then I realized I was really fast. Then I started training much more and pushing harder. I started in Spanish Championships and moved up to international level.

Since the beginning, it was my dream to be racing at international level with all these great drivers. When I was doing WSK and European Championships, I started realizing I was really fast and this could be my future job. So I decided to stay in motorsport. This is my dream. Getting to Formula 1 would be really amazing. Now with the Girls on Track – Rising Stars program, it’s a really good opportunity to push girls into motorsport and help them reach Formula 1. I hope to seize this chance and move forward.

PS: Is there a racing idol for you? How have they impacted you and your racing?

MW: The driver I really look up to now is Charles Leclerc. He’s really fast and always very concentrated. I was with him when I was testing with BirelArt in Italy. We were at the same track on the same team.

I also like Max Verstappen. He’s a really good driver, very aggressive.

Maya with Leclerc during testing

PS: How are your family supporting you in your career?

MW: They’ve supported me a lot since the very beginning. My dad has always been with me on track. My mom supports me a lot as well, she isn’t scared or anything. My brother is always watching my races. My grandparents always help me. Sometimes they come to my races if my parents have to work.

PS: What has been your best memory in your career so far?

MW: It’s difficult to pick one. I really like winning WSK Final Cup, which was my first international win. I was on a small team, I was the only driver on the team. I worked hard the whole year through to finally get the result I wanted.

Maya winning WSK Final Cup © SPORT IN PHOTO

Being picked by Richard Mille for the Young Talent Academy was amazing, because they gave me the opportunity to drive for two years with them.

Now I hope I can make it a good memory to get in Ferrari Driver Academy.

© Eduard Cartañá (@fotocar13)

PS: How are you juggling school work, training, and racing?

MW: It’s difficult but I’m really used to it after 9 years of driving. When I go to races, it’s not just two days. It starts on Thursday or Wednesday, then runs till Sunday. You come back on Monday really late and go to school on Tuesday. I try to do my homework and play whenever I have time. Until now it’s been really good, my grades are good and my karting is good.

PS: Moving from karting to single-seater car racing, what do you think is the biggest challenges for drivers and specifically for you?

MW: I definitely think the money is a big challenge. It’s difficult to get there without money. It’s basically impossible. But driving is of course more difficult. The breaking is very different, it’s much harder brakes in single-seaters. It’s actually very different driving comparing to karts. I’m trying to adapt. It’s a very big step between karting and single-seater racing. I still train my neck and arm strength, that’s always the same training.

PS: How are you preparing for the shoot-out in October?

MW: During the lockdown I’ve been training with the simulator and training physically every day. I always do physical exercises everyday. The first shoot-out is in karting, so I can just prepare through my racing program this year with the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy and the BirelArt team. I also spend a lot of time on the simulator, because we will get a training camp with Formula 4.

© SPORT IN PHOTO

Next week, we give you Milla Sjöstrand from Sweden and Doriane Pin from France.

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