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Max Verstappen after the Japanese Grand Prix

Verstappen: ‘I do have doubts’ over Formula One’s approach to F1 Academy

The F1 Academy series, which became an F1 support category in 2024, has already made major headlines with Doriane Pin being stripped of her second race victory in Saudi Arabia

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Verstappen doubts the help available to F1 Academy drivers, with the all-female aspect of the series at risk

Abbi Pulling currently leads the F1 Academy championship after winning the second race in Saudi Arabia
Abbi Pulling currently leads the F1 Academy championship after winning the second race in Saudi Arabia. (Image Credit: @F1academy on X)

While we may be four rounds into the Formula One season, F1 Academy has only completed one round in 2024. The two races in Saudi Arabia were action-packed from start to finish. Race one victor, Doraine Pin, was stripped of her second win as she took the chequered flag twice. Instead, Alpine driver Abbi Pulling inherited her victory, and currently leads the drivers’ championship.

Now, we move closer to the second round of the championship, which is set to take place during the Formula One Miami Grand Prix weekend. However, three-time reigning world champion Max Verstappen has called into question how much F1 is truly helping the F1 Academy drivers. The Dutchman said:

“It is good that Formula 1 now pays extra attention to women in motorsport with the F1 Academy, although I have doubts about how they approach it. The cars they drive are way too slow. If you ever want to get them into Formula 1, it really has to go to a higher level.”

He continued, “It’s nice, and [it’s] nice that girls are now sponsored by Formula 1 teams, but what do we actually help them with? There is no next step for them now. For example, the gap to a Formula 4 car is already too big.”

Here, the Red Bull driver is referencing the ruling that each Formula One team must select, field, and support at least one driver on the F1 Academy grid. During the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, we saw many F1 drivers supporting their F1 Academy counterparts.

But is Formula One doing enough to support females in motorsport? And should the all-female series supply its drivers with faster cars?

Karin Fink: In five to ten years, F1 Academy won’t be supporting only female talent

While Verstappen raises some valid questions surrounding the new all-female category, the series has most definitely raised the profile of females in motorsport. However, the new Head of Commercial Karin Fink has alluded to the category branching out in the future. Fink said:

“In an ideal world […] in five to ten years’ time, F1 Academy doesn’t need to be just supporting female talent anymore.”

She continued, “With all the grassroots activities and the initiatives that we’re doing, and the visibility we’re giving, hopefully, that gets us to the point where it’s a talent-nurturing platform and not just a female talent-nurturing platform.”

Where would F1 Academy fit into the feeder programme if it were to evolve away from being a female-only series?

Feature Image Credit: @redbullracing on X

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