The first-ever F1 Academy season is about to get underway, with 2023 marking the inaugural campaign for the new all-female racing category. After four days of pre-season testing, the 15 drivers and five teams will take part in the debut weekend of the series in Austria on 28-29 April. In case you’ve missed it, RacingNews365.com has rounded up everything you need to know about F1 Academy 2023 before the campaign begins… What is F1 Academy? F1 Academy was first announced back in November 2022. The series aims to help in preparing young female drivers to progress through the ranks of motorsport, with the goal being to offer them a level of experience required to move up into Formula 3. Five teams – all of which have established themselves in F2 and F3 – will each run three drivers across a 21-race calendar spanning seven rounds. There will be two qualifying sessions and three races at each weekend, with a different points allocation for Race 2. The series will run identical cars, with all 15 drivers getting behind the wheel of the Tatuus T421. Using brands like Tatuus and tyre supplier Pirelli allows F1 Academy to be a technically advanced category whilst remaining affordable. It was confirmed in March that Susie Wolff will be Managing Director of F1 Academy . As well as having racing experience, Wolff founded the Dare to be Different initiative and most recently acted as Team Principal and latterly CEO of the Venturi Formula E team. Wolff hopes that the series can “inspire women around the world to follow their dreams”. When is the first race of the F1 Academy 2023 season? The first F1 Academy 2023 race will be held at Spielberg, Austria across the weekend of 28-29 April. The Red Bull Ring is set to play host to the debut event, a venue that has been a regular addition to the Formula 1 calendar in recent years. What does the 2023 F1 Academy calendar look like? After Round 1 in Spielberg, F1 Academy will go on to race in Valencia and Barcelona in May before heading to Zandvoort in June. Monza and Le Castellet host the series in July, before the season finale takes place in Austin in October as part of the Formula 1 support bill. Who are the F1 Academy 2023 drivers and teams? There are a mixture of new and familiar faces taking part in the inaugural F1 Academy season. Perhaps one of the most recognisable is Abbi Pulling, who impressed in W Series and is a member of the Alpine Academy . The 20-year-old will race for the Rodin Carlin squad. Other former W Series drivers taking part are Nerea Marti, Marta Garcia, Bianca Bustamante and Megan Gilkes, with Marti racing for Campos Racing while Garcia and Bustamante will be teammates at Prema Racing, and Gilkes joins Pulling at Rodin Carlin. The final Prema Racing driver is Briton Chloe Chong, the youngest driver in the field at 16 years old. Elsewhere, MP Motorsport could see some sibling rivalry emerge, with sisters Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi teaming up. They will be joined by Dutch racer Emely de Heus. What happened at pre-season testing? Two pre-season tests have been held ahead of the F1 Academy 2023 season getting underway, with the first two-day session taking place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 11-12 April. The drivers completed a total of 981 laps across six hours, gaining crucial time behind the wheel as they prepare for the opening race of the campaign. A second two-day test was held at the Circuit Paul Ricard from 18-19 April, which brought some mixed conditions after an unexpected rain shower hit on Day 1. Three different drivers topped the timesheets across four sessions, with Hamda Al Qubaisi and Garcia initially leading the way before Pulling claimed P1 in the third and fourth sessions. Pulling went on to set the pace on Day 2, putting in the fastest time in two out of three sessions during the day, while Garcia was P1 in the first session. “It’s been kind of a flawless two days of testing and I think we’ve made great steps again today, after working on a few things with the set-up,” Pulling said. “I think there is a little bit of me needing to put it all together as I did good things, but not all on the same lap! That will be the focus for the Red Bull Ring, making sure we put everything together. “I never really left the top of the time sheets all test long, so I can’t ask for much more.” What are the future plans for F1 Academy? It was announced in March that, in 2024, F1 Academy will align with the Formula 1 calendar. The series is set to appear at select rounds on the F1 schedule, with the sport’s CEO, Stefano Domenicali, stating that the move is “part of the plan to promote F1 Academy”. For the 2023 season, F1 Academy will appear on the Formula 1 support bill at the United States Grand Prix. Can I watch F1 Academy 2023 on TV? There has been no news yet on whether there will be television coverage of F1 Academy, but fans will still be able to follow the action online via social media and live timing.
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