In January 2021, Maya Weug became the first female driver to join the Ferrari Driver Academy. The Dutch driver is hoping this will be the first step on her ascent to Formula 1.
Weug's rise to prominence was enabled by the FIA's Girls on Track, Rising Stars program which aimed at identifying top female talent with the help of Ferrari. The age range for the event was between 12-16 and a final list of 20 were invited for a shootout with the top 12 being selected for two seperate FIA training camps. Eventually the list was whittled down to just four, who were invited to test Formula 4 machinery for what proved to be an intensive training week in Italy.
Eventually Weug pravailed securing herself a drive in Formula 4 with the help of the Italian marque.
"I have been in Maranello for five days," Weug told RacingNews365.com in an exclusive interview.
"For example, we completed a media training, a medical and a mental assessment, but we also went on the road for two days. So we did a lot, including physical training, so as to always to be able to go faster on the track and keep improving myself.
"We got to know ourselves better and of course we also did media training to be in front of the camera as well as possible. It was a super week!"
Weug went on the describe how there was a week's interval between the intensive five day program and the results being announced. When she was ultimately annouced as a winner she was estatic.
"I have no words to describe how I feel. It's been my dream for so long since I started karting," Weug explained.
"I've had a lot of opposition, but to be here now is great. It's an honor to be there. to come out for Ferrari."
Weug was also bombarded with possitve messages when the annoucement was made. From the likes of Formula E team principal Sussie Wolff to WEC driver Tatiana Calderon, Weug's success was celebrated by some of the most emminent female names in motor racing.
"It was some hectic days," Weug said.
"I have received a lot of congratulations and had to give a lot of interviews. It was quite busy, but of course very nice to be part of the Ferrari Driver Academy."
Part of Weug's prize is a sponsored driver in the Italian Formula 4 championship, while the Dutch driver has never driven a formula car, she has begun her test preperation.
"It is my first season in Formula 4, so there is still a lot to learn," Weug elaborated.
"The coaches of the Ferrari Driver Academy are very good. For this year my goal is to be good, to do my best and always be myself. I don't know what my program will look like yet, but I will undoubtedly learn a lot and I am really looking forward to it."
Weug acknowledges that motorsport which is largely considered a man's world, will see more female participation in it in the future due to intiatives like the FIA Rising Stars Program.
"It is very nice to see, there are not many girls in motorsport yet," Weug said.
"Now you see more and more and programs like this are helping enormously. It is wonderful to see more and more girls in the motorsport world end up.
Weug is also grateful that the burden of securing the necessary funding for a year of motorsport has been taken care of, though she understands she will have to perform in order to keep moving up the ranks.
"In any case, I would have done my best to make it to Formula 4 myself, but I have no idea how it would have turned out differently," Wueg elaborates.
While there is no official confirmation RacingNews365 understands that Weug will be placed in the Italian Formula 4 championship for the coming season.
The Dutch driver however is certain what her career path is and whom she would like to emulate.
"My dream is to reach Formula 1 and to do that together with Ferrari. Thanks to the FIA Women in Motorsport Driving Stars selection, I have a very good chance and I will certainly do my best," Weug said.
Weug also said that current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is someone she looks upto.
"That is my idol (Leclerc), I have been following him for a while. He is a very good driver, very calm on the track and he is also fast. He is also very nice and calm outside the track, I have seen him on the go-kart track."
Time will tell if Weug can succeed where others have failed. Given her age and her association with one of the most noted driver academies in the world, Weug has a better chance than most of her female peers for the time being.