Ferrari appoints first female racer to Driver Academy
Ferrari has appointed its first female racer to its Driver Academy in 16-year-old Maya Weug.
The Dutch/Belgian karter is the overall winner of the FIA's Girls on Track Rising Stars initiative designed to discover the next top-level female driver from between the ages of 12 to 16, landing a prize of a Formula 4 drive for this season, fully funded and supported by the FDA
Weug was selected from an initial field of 20 that was whittled down to 12, then eight and a final four, the latter following a three-day training camp at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
The quartet, that also included Brazilian duo Julia Ayoub and Antonella Bassani, along with Doriane Pin from France, were then subjected to a rigorous five-day assessment programme that included two days on track in F4 cars.
Weug, who currently lives in Spain and who shares the same upbringing as Max Verstappen as her father is Dutch and mother Belgian, was naturally left speechless by the announcement.
“I have literally no words to express my feelings right now,” said Weug. “It’s been my dream for so long, since I started karting.
"Being with Ferrari is amazing, and now actually being here and winning is just unreal and I’m super happy and thankful to the whole Ferrari Driver Academy and FIA for all their hard work.
“It’s been an amazing experience, I learned a lot, but Covid definitely made it very difficult to travel and to be there on time, but also the other 19 girls have made it very tough to be here right now."
Asked as to her expectations for the upcoming F4 season, Weug said: “It’s my first season in F4 so what I’m looking for is to improve myself every single race.
"It's a huge honour to be with the Ferrari Driver Academy, and to represent them, and also FIA Women in Motorsport, so I'm going to make them proud and give everything I have, and aim for a top position, of course."
Asked whether any of the final candidates had shown signs of potentially following in Leclerc's footsteps, FDA manager Marco Matassa said: “For us, being a driver is within the DNA of a person, no matter if they’re male or female. The DNA belongs to a driver.
“Charles has been the first FDA driver to successfully complete the path from the junior categories to F1 with Scuderia Ferrari so it’s normal to consider him as a touchstone for us.
“One of the four girls, in one specific discipline during this camp, actually scored the overall highest ranking of all our scouting camp history, so definitely my answer is yes.”
Describing Weug's appointment as "a key moment in the history of Scuderia Ferrari and its Academy", team principal Mattia Binotto added: "Maya’s arrival is a clear indication of the Scuderia’s commitment to making motorsport increasingly inclusive, in line with the hashtag supported by the entire Formula 1 community, #weraceasone.
"This project is, therefore, a new element to mark the start of the year for the FDA, which is proving to be a great success.
"Five of its 19 students have made it to Formula 1 and four of them, 20% of the entire grid, will be racing this coming season in the top level of motorsport."
The three losing finalists will each be given a test in a Ferrari Challenge GT car, while the FDA will continue to monitor their progress to ensure they are not forgotten.
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