W Series Academy guarantees youngest drivers fully-funded seats for two years
W Series today announces details of its new Academy which will support the development of young female talent across all motorsport disciplines.
Irina Sidorkova, 18, and Nerea Martí, 19, made impressive debuts for the W Series Academy Team at the opening race of the 2021 season at the Red Bull Ring, Austria, last weekend. As the two youngest drivers in the paddock and members of the W Series Academy Team, they are guaranteed drives in W Series for the next two years, giving them time to hone their skills. In addition, they will receive intensive mentoring and coaching to hone their driving skills and race craft. They will also be provided with a bespoke fitness and nutrition programme, as well as media training to support their professional development.
The W Series Academy Team drivers will play an ambassadorial role, taking part in a community outreach programme to inspire girls to consider a career in motorsport. The grassroots initiative aims to provide females as young as 16 years old with a clear pathway from karting to the upper echelons of motorsport. Subsequent steps will open the door to the many supporting jobs and careers within the W Series racing world.
Catherine Bond Muir (Chief Executive Officer, W Series) said:
“We are delighted to be able to take the first step of our W Series Academy plans this season, despite the headwinds we and many others have faced over the past year. The W Series Academy is an important step forward in our quest to enable young women to enter motorsport and compete on an equal footing with men.
“Irina Sidorkova and Nerea Martí are our two youngest drivers but, at the first race of the 2021 W Series season in Austria, they both showed their tremendous potential on motor racing’s greatest stage. All of us were blown away by how they conducted themselves on and off track, and we are thrilled to be able show our commitment to them – and the next generation of young girls they are already inspiring – by providing the extra coaching and mentoring they need to go all the way because the sky is the limit for them both.”
Nerea, from Valencia, Spain, progressed through karting to compete in Spanish F4 prior to joining W Series this year. She made up more places than any other driver during the first race of the season in Austria, going from 16th on the grid to seventh. Irina, from Karelia, Russia, also raced in karts before competing in F4 in Spain and Russia, and F3 in Asia, and enjoyed a similarly impressive debut, going from 14th to eighth.
Nerea Martí, 19, Spain (W Series Academy Team driver) said:
“I am so happy to be named as a W Series Academy Team driver and determined to make the most of this fantastic opportunity. The W Series environment, where drivers share data and learn from each other’s setups is the perfect one for me to develop and grow in. I was happy to make up so many places on my debut in Austria where, after a difficult qualifying, the support from my engineers and mechanics really helped me adapt to the increased power and weight of the F3 car and find some rhythm during the race.
“Seeing the likes of my fellow Spaniard, Marta Garcia, thriving in W Series’ first season in 2019 was so inspiring. There are things I need to improve to follow in her footsteps and become a W Series race-winner, and the extra support I will receive over the next two seasons will help me do that.”
Irina Sidorkova, 18, Russia (W Series Academy Team driver) said:
“I have already learned so much in my short time with W Series, so the prospect of having two full seasons ahead of me with extra coaching is very exciting. The open and welcoming atmosphere is ideal for young females, like me, who are eager to improve and build a successful career in motorsport, whether that is behind the wheel or in one of the many support roles. Scoring points in my first race in Austria was such a confidence boost and I now feel part of the W Series family, who surprised me on Sunday with a cake for my 18th birthday to round off a very special weekend!
“The thought of being one of the first W Series Academy graduates makes me so proud and I am now more determined than ever to build on that great start at the Red Bull Ring. When I was 16, I watched Jamie Chadwick win the first W Series title. Now I want to inspire the next generation of girls who are watching me race at some of the world’s greatest circuits alongside Formula 1 this year.”
Watch round two of the 2021 W Series season from the Red Bull Ring, Austria, live and free-to-air on Channel 4 from 15:00 BST on Saturday 3 July.