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F1 2022

Why FIA President hopes women's racing series are a short-term solution

With a focus on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion forming part of his manifesto, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has voiced his hopes that female-only racing series will act as a 'bridge' to women entering higher levels of motorsport.

W Series Austria 2021
To news overview © W Series

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem hopes that women's racing series will act as a short-term solution to bridge the gap to greater equality.

W Series entered its third season in 2022, though the category was forced to curtail the campaign early in order to focus on securing investment for 2023 following financial issues.

Meanwhile, Formula 1 announced the formation of the F1 Academy series in November. Beginning next year, the goal of the category is to develop young female drivers in order to prepare them for competing in higher levels of motorsport.

With a focus on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion having formed part of his manifesto, Ben Sulayem would like to see all-female categories pave the way for women to climb the ranks.

Ben Sulayem voices hopes for equality

"The main objective to me is to make it sustainable," Ben Sulayem told media, including RacingNews365.com, at the joint FIA and FIM Women in Motorsports Conference.

"Once you make this series sustainable, I believe then more women will come, and then they will be in the middle of the F3 and F2, and then we know that this is the bridge.

"But as long as we have women's series, I don't think women's series should be lasting very much – it can only be a production to bridge to the other level.

"If we just keep it, that's it, I don't think we will really be... We want to be fair with women in sport."

Ben Sulayem hopes to continue to work with the various figures involved, including F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, to ensure that any series achieve their targets.

"We still have a few series, more than one. You will end up putting your concentration in more than one and none of them will make it," he explained.

"They might make it up to a level, but then [they should be] bridging it.

"I have a very good relationship with F1, especially with Stefano Domenicali, and this is to us one of the most important issues. I am a believer that it can be handled, finding the right plan – fail to plan is plan to fail, I always say – and then have the proper support for it.

"But where are we going with it? If we want to go to F3 and F2 then we'll have to link this project. It's not easy, [but] how easy it is is for us to find for the years to come."

Why results are important

Alongside the F1 Academy and W Series, the More Than Equal initiative was launched earlier in the year with the mission of finding and developing the first female F1 World Champion.

The FIA also runs programmes such as the Girls On Track – Rising Stars talent detection programme, which offers its competitors a pathway towards competing in F4.

With these various initiatives and series, Ben Sulayem believes that the crucial matter is to see results.

"What is really important is to make the use out of it and make sure we see the numbers, and to bridge this [F1 Academy] championship is very important," he said.

"You can name them any name, but are they actually doing what we want it to do?"

Off track, Ben Sulayem has stressed the importance of having diversity in motorsport based on merit rather than purely numbers.

"In the world of motorsport, I am not after only the numbers that [were] imposed on us," he added.

"If we make our sport appealing to people, you will have more people in it. We cannot just say come and we have to do it and we have to have 30 per cent [as a target for diversity within the workforce].

"It is so degrading if you go on a number. They are there because they are credible."

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