F1 is to launch an all-new racing series designed to help young female drivers reach the pinnacle of motorsport.
To be known as F1 Academy, the series will start next year and consist of five teams run by strong and experienced current F2 and F3 teams.
Each team will comprise three cars to make up a 15-car grid competing in seven events of three races each, amounting to a total of 21 races. There will also be 15 days of official testing. One event is likely to take place on an F1 weekend.
F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “Everyone should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and achieve their potential.
"Formula 1 wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to create greater diversity and routes into this incredible sport.
"That is why I am delighted to announce the F1 Academy that will give young female drivers the best chance to fulfil their ambitions through a comprehensive programme that supports their racing careers and gives them everything they need to move into F3 and hopefully to F2 and then the pinnacle of Formula 1.
"The more opportunity there is the better and this is designed to provide another route for the drivers to succeed.”
The car used for the series will be a Tatuus T421 chassis, incorporating a 165hp turbo-charged engine to be supplied by Autotecnica.
Crucially, F1 will subsidise each car with a budget of €150,000 [£130,000], with the drivers required to cover the same amount. The teams will provide the rest of the budget.
The series will be managed by Bruno Michel, currently CEO of Formula Motorsport Limited, who has the knowledge and experience of running successful junior categories for a reasonable budget and helping drivers to develop.
Michel said: “Diversity is extremely important in motorsport, and with the F1 Academy we will prove that female drivers have what it takes to compete at high levels.
"I am absolutely convinced that if young women are given the same amount of experience as any other driver, they can successfully make their way through the pyramid.
"Our goal is to see female drivers on the F3 grid in the next two to three years, and for them to quickly challenge for points and podiums.
"The aim is to increase the field in the near future, because we hope this category will inspire more young girls to compete in motorsport at the highest of levels.”
The category has been developed to complement the W Series