This week saw the launch at the Geneva Motorshow of a new initiative aimed at encouraging young women to get involved in motorsport – the Girls on Track karting challenge.
The initiative is backed by the FIA Women in Motorsport commission and its president ex-rally driver Michele Mouton as well as Susie Wolff and Tatiana Calderon, who was named as test driver for the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team this week.
With funding from the European Commission – via the Erasmus educational programme – and sponsorship from Yokohama, the programme is aimed at bringing girls between 13 and 18 years old to motorsport.
The Girls On Track programme is very much a grassroots programme, using the fast growing discipline of karting slalom, which is a very low cost entry level category that can be set up in city centres and urban settings.
Eight European national federations are participating – Belgium, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden. The target is to reach more than 3000 girls.
Three finalists from each country will be invited to take part in the European final at Le Mans in March 2019, and six drivers will be chosen to form a European Team that will undertake a full FIA backed sporting and educational programme.
Although the programme does not set any goals in terms such as having a female F1 driver in the next five to ten years, the objective is to increase the ‘funnel’ of girls participating in the sport. One of the main reasons cited why there is no female F1 driver today is because not enough girls participate at grass roots and kerting level so the funnel is too narrow, compared to boys.
All Grand Prix drivers started their careers in karting in some form or another and that has been the case for many years now.
“This project is a huge challenge, although essential to raise awareness about motorsport among young girls and detect the female champions of tomorrow. With The Girls On Track programme, we have a great opportunity to open up the world of motorsport to a new generation” said Michele Mouton.
Calderon will be working in the Sauber simulator and also attending several Grands Prix to work with engineers, although the deal does not appear to include any test time in the F1 car itself.
If you or one of your friends or family is interested in finding out more about Girls on Track then click on this link www.fia.com/TheGirlsOnTrack
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