At only 13 years old, this young girl already knows what she wants to do later. In fact, she's already exercising her passion: Formula 1. "My favorite thing about racing is the speed," Ella Stevens told CNN. She will try her luck on the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet this fall to join the prestigious Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) and thus become the team's first female racing driver. "It's a great opportunity for me," commented the young Briton. She is already a karting champion in Great Britain. "We have to do some fitness and karting tests in the first phase, so that they can see our driving," says Ella Stevens.
In reality, the FDA is fertile ground for future F1 stars. Among them, Michael Schumacher and Enzo Fittipaldi, grandson of former Formula 1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi and nephew of driver Christian Fittipaldi, and Arthur Leclerc, brother of Charles Leclerc. The 13-year-old, from a small village in England, has to climb mountains to access the male-dominated sport. It has been 40 years since a woman has raced in Formula 1 and only six have taken part in a Grand Prix weekend.
Effort to include young women
However, Ella Stevens has strong support: Rob Smedley, a popular figure in the F1 community. The former Ferrari engineer for more than ten years mentors the teenager through his own academy, Electroheads Talent Academy. The fact that Ferrari is looking for a future female driver is a "big step" for him, reports CNN. "It is absolutely amazing (…) that they are taking positive steps to increase gender diversity in sport." A commitment confirmed by Ferrari: "We felt that we had to make an extra effort to include young women who want to get into motorsport," said Mattia Binotto, manager of the Ferrari team.
The young girl seems to have the talent to go far in motorsport. At 10, she became a kart champion in Great Britain, at the same age as Lewis Hamilton, who won the cadet class kart championship. In 2018, she added another title to her record and became a co-champion in a kart series in the winter of 2020, shortened by the Covid-19 epidemic. "I would love to be a professional racing driver and eventually play in Formula 1," says Ella Stevens.
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Another plus: Britain’s coach Alice Powell, winner of the W Series race. The latter assesses her protégé as a "great talent". “She's already won a kart championship and many races,” Powell adds. "She also had some tough times but did everything to overcome them. She deserves to try to get a place in the Ferrari Academy," said Alice Powell. Ella Stevens is one of 25 riders aged 12 to 16 who have been selected for a spot at Ferrari's Driver Academy. She will try her luck at Le Castellet next October.
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