Guest blog by Thiemo Albers-Daly
In 2023, there won’t be one but two all female racing series taking place in conjunction with Formula 1. W Series will enter its fourth season while F1 Academy will make its debut. For those who don’t know, W Series is a fully funded series for up and coming female talent that has seen the likes of Jamie Chadwick, Emma Kimilainen, Vicky Piria and Alice Powell competing in it to name just a few. For the last two seasons, it’s been racing on the same weekends as Formula 1 acting as one of its support races, alongside Formula 2 and Formula 3.
F1 Academy meanwhile will be a brand new series focused on younger female drivers with seven events consisting of three races each held throughout the year, with at least one of these also happening on the same weekend as an F1 Grand Prix. Think of it as having a similar relationship with W Series as Formula 3 has with Formula 2. F1 Academy will have 15 drivers spread across 5 teams and is being advertised as a new route for women to reach higher levels of motorsport such as W Series and Formula 2.
Naturally, there are a plethora of talented individuals who would be ripe to join the ranks come 2023. For me though, these ten that follow have stood out to me for the reasons I’m about to delve into and I would love to at least see a few of them get the chance to race in either category next year.
1. Isla Mackenzie
Isla’s Dad owned a farm when she was growing up so she’d often be driving around on quad bikes or whatever else she could get her hands on. Not thinking she’d be able to forge a career in motorsport initially, Isla was pleasantly surprised to discover that she could study Motorsport Engineering at University and the rest as they say, is history. She now works for the Mercedes AMG F1 Team as a Dyno Technician, having done a George Russell and moved there after working for Williams.
At the beginning of 2022, the up and coming Scottish driver was scouted and signed by IMC Motorsport and has been racing in the Senior Rotax category as well as taking part in a testing programme with her KZ Shifter Kart. Following in the racing footsteps of other Scottish speed demons such as David Coulthard, Sir Jackie Stewart and Susie Wolff, Isla has since made another positive step forward on her motorsport journey.
Back in August, she joined the Scuderia Fern Racing Team where she immediately took part in a track day at Silverstone driving in the team’s Formula Ford car – her first time in a single seater. Back in March this year, I made the call that we’d see Isla in W Series at some point in the not too distant future. With F1 Academy having now been announced, it’s the perfect time for Isla and her team to double down and see what they can make happen. Bloody quick, focused and incredibly easy to get along with as well as being someone with a plethora of racing knowledge both on and off the track, Isla’s exactly what every team should be looking for in a driver. So come on W Series, sign her up – you know you want to.
2. Maite Cáceres
Maite is the one that got away for W Series in 2022. Having tested for the series in Arizona back in January, Maite didn’t get the call up to race – a mistake that should be rectified in 2023. Having raced in U.S Formula 4 this year with International Motorsport, she’s gone away and refined her skills behind the wheel. This includes her overtaking skills which provided me with two of my favourite moves in motorsport anywhere this year! Both came at The Circuit of the Americas in early November. The first was a simply sublime move through the opening Ss section of the circuit where you don’t normally see many passes. The opportunity for a move was there and she took it instinctively. The second came on the final lap of one of the races where coming onto the back straight, Maite overtook the car ahead of her with what looked like relative ease, after hunting them down for the last few laps. It was a simple but calculated and efficient move, a skill that is crucial for any successful driver to have. Both moves were awesome and really showed Maite’s potential.
Maite also has the full force of Uruguay behind her as support as the country’s first female racing driver. At a time where motorsport is reaching out into all corners of the globe to try and find genuine racing talent, Maite and Uruguay are an untapped resource that really deserves more attention. Genuine, super-friendly and humble, Maite is one to keep an eye on moving forwards and W Series should really snap her up before someone else does.
3. Lola Lovinfosse
At just 17 years old, Lola would be the perfect fit to jump into F1 Academy. She too tested for W Series in Arizona at the start of 2022 but had to wait a little longer to go racing instead. She competed in Spanish Formula 4 for part of this year as well as in 2021, and is now competing in the Indian Racing League – five races held in five different cities in India – both of which are no doubt going to be great for her to develop as a driver.
Oh and she raced with Wolf Racing France where she got a P1 straight out of the box on a track she’d never raced on in a car she’d never raced in before. If that doesn’t convince you that there’s some pure racing talent here, then I reckon you need your head checking out.
4. Angelina Favario
Back when I interviewed her over the summer, Angelina told me that 2023 would be her year. Having raced in French Formula 4 and raced on the ice in Finland, she’s another driver that would be a perfect fit for F1 Academy. From chatting with her, you can tell immediately that cars and motorsport are her passion and if F1 Academy wants to put its money where its mouth is, then giving drivers like Angelia the chance to prove themselves and garner more of the attention they deserve, then they should set up a meeting with her straight away.
Having varied experience in her limited time on track so far is a great asset for Angelina and captures just how fine the margins can be when being looked at for a potential race seat in any racing series. If F1 Academy goes to a track where the conditions aren’t bright and sunny, it could be the perfect opportunity for someone like Angelina to showcase her talent.
5. Hamda Al Qubaisi
Hamda Al Qubaisi is quite frankly one of the most exciting up and coming talents in all of motorsport. There I said it. For the past few years, she’s been methodically rising up through the ranks of motorsport, only entering a category when she feels she’s ready for it and with a firm plan in mind of what she wants to achieve. She reminds me of Alain ‘The Professor’ Prost in that respect. Hamda became the first woman to stand on the podium in Italian Formula 4 – proof that her methodology is working.
When it comes to W Series or F1 Academy, I don’t mind which one she joins for 2023 – as long as one of them comes and signs her up. Incredibly mature for her age with a wealth of ambition to go with her competitive nature (spurred on by her racing driver sister) as well as an infectious personality that means you can’t help but be a fan of hers, Hamda is the real deal and needs the opportunity to further prove what she’s capable of. Your move F1.
6. Lindsay Marie Brewster
You’ve probably already heard of Lindsay – especially if you’re an American. Touted by Forbes as the ‘Future of IndyCar’, I believe that an alternative or concurrent path could be in her future through W Series. Having raced since 2016, Lindsay has earned a podium in the SBRS F4 series and a top 10 finish in TC America in 2021 as well as racing in the USF Pro Championship in 2022. Over the course of this season, she collected 98 points with a best finish of eighth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
She’ll be racing again for Exclusive Autosport in this category in 2023 but I reckon if she wanted to, Lindsay could easily juggle that and a gig in W Series. She’s easily one of the most talked about drivers at the moment and seeing her race at a W Series round at either Miami or Austin would be next level awesome. If not, I’ll happily settle for seeing her in IndyCar or IndyLights in 2024. I’m a reasonable guy after all.
7. Logan Hannah
Naturally, Logan began her racing career in karting. But the Scottish driver took a slightly different path to many others as she moved up through the ranks in Junior Rotax in the Middle East, not Europe. She regularly competed in the World Finals at Le Mans as well which culminated in Logan being crowned Female Driver of the Year by Karting Magazine in 2017. She then went on to make history by being the first female driver to compete in UAE F4.
Then in 2022, she became a race winner in the GB4 Championship with Graham Brunton Racing and Laser Tools Racing. She’s also raced in Formula Ford and Ginetta Junior and seems to be riding on a wave of positive momentum as we head into 2023.
This is all the more reason that F1 Academy or W Series should at the very least give her the opportunity to test in their cars ahead of the 2023 season. She’s been rewriting the rule book ever since she got started and it’s only a matter of time before she reaches the higher echelons of motorsport. So let’s keep that going.
8. Lena Buhler
Lena Buhler is a Swiss racing driver who has competed in F3 Regional and F3 Asia this year. She raced in Formula Regional last year too and competed in Spanish Formula 4 in 2020. That’s why I think 2023 would be the perfect time to give Lena the opportunity to put all of her experience into practice with a seat in W Series.
W Series has shown that it’s all about giving new talent a chance and with Lena being outside of the age range of F1 Academy, it’s perfect for those who got into motorsport sooner but haven’t been able to capitalize on opportunities as much as they have been able to. As brilliant as F1 Academy is in giving younger women a platform, some of the older drivers (that are still quite young in the grand scheme of things) shouldn’t be forgotten either. It’s why W Series is so important and giving Lena the chance to race for them in 2023 would be a great example of this. What’s more is that Lena also happened to test for W Series earlier this year so she’s already on their radar. I really am making this quite easy for them.
It’s also a perfect opportunity for someone like Lena to get a car that she’s able to customize to her driving style through experimentation with set up. We’ve often seen with drivers across all of motorsport that we know to be good are unable to deliver the results we know they’re capable of. Take Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren and Tatiana Calderon at Charouz this year as two examples of this. Results are not always reflective of a driver’s true ability and until they’ve been given the chance to show what they can really do, they shouldn’t be overlooked.
9. Mira Erda
Mira Edra is an Indian racing driver and was the first female Indian racer to win internationally in Formula 4. With motorsport expanding in India, through things like the Indian Racing League, Mira is just one of many brilliant examples of the unrealised talent that’s waiting to be discovered there.
Formula 1 doesn’t look set to go back to China anytime soon so perhaps they should look to revive the Indian Grand Prix as a result of this. Then, regardless of the fact that if Mira is part of W Series or F1 Academy, her inclusion would be fantastic for all involved and she could really help lead the way and forge a path for other female talent throughout the country. As with everyone else on this list, signing her up is a no brainer.
10. Nicole Havrda
A Canadian Czech racer who’s been racing in both Formula 3 Regional and the Indian Racing League in 2022, Nicole is another driver who already has multiple race wins under her belt. She’s another driver that can easily take advantage of the wave of obsession that North America is having with motorsport and falls into a bit of a niche category as a Canadian as there aren’t as many of them around in mainstream motorsport as perhaps there should be.
There are countless others that should be on this list and I may even do some more articles like this in the future to showcase them so if someone you thought deserved to be on this list isn’t, don’t take it personally. In fact, go and find my post about this article on Instagram and comment on it who else you’d love to see in W Series and F1 Academy in the future and I’ll give them a shout out. For now though, go and check out these ten brilliant drivers and show them some support.