Dutch teenager becomes first girl to join Ferrari’s driver academy
Saturday, 23 January 2021
A 16-year-old born and raised in Spain to a Dutch father and a Belgian mother has become the first girl to join the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA), the Italian team announced on Friday.
Maya Weug will compete in the 2021 Formula 4 Championship for an entire season. She will benefit this year from the resources and coaching of the FDA.
The Dutch teenager, whose father is an ardent fan of mechanical sports, began karting at the age of 7 in 2011 on a second-hand kart she shared with her brother, before starting out in competitive races in 2013 in Spain, first at the regional level, then in the national championships.
She was selected under a talent-spotting programme for girls aged 12 to 16 conducted with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA, International Automobile Federation), besting three other finalists, Brazil’s Julia Ayoub (16) and Antonella Bassani (14), and France’s Doriane Pin (17).
“I will never forget this day,” Maya Weug was quoted as saying in a press release issued by Ferrari. This “makes me realise that I was right to pursue my dream of becoming a racing driver,” she added.
“I will give my all to show the people who believed in me that I deserve to wear the Ferrari Driver Academy uniform,” Weug said. “I can’t wait to come to (Ferrari headquarters) Maranello to start preparing for my first season of single-seater racing.”
The programme, which was continued this year, began in February last with the selection by the FIA of 20 young pilots from various parts of the world, identified with the help of their national sport authorities.
Motor racing is theoretically a mixed sport, but women continue to be underrepresented, if not absent, not only among pilots but also among team staff.
In 71 editions of the Formula 1 Championship, only two women have ever taken part in a Grand Prix, the last one being Italy’s Leila Lombardi, in 1976.
Many initiatives have been launched recently to correct this imbalance. These include the Girls on Track – Rising Stars programme mounted by the FIA’s Women in Motor Sport Commission in conjunction with the FDA.
Another is the W series single-seater championships reserved for young women, whose prizes are meant to enable women to finance the pursuit of their careers.