Motorsport's push for diversity enjoyed a milestone moment on Friday, with the news that Dutch/Belgian racer Maya Weug has become the first female driver to join Ferrari's prestigious Driver Academy.
The 16-year-old owed her chance to become a Ferrari protégé by winning the FIA's Girls on Track Rising Stars programme, a selective process organized in association with Ferrari that has been ongoing for almost a year.
Weug, who successfully competed in karting will undertake a full season in one of the Formula 4 championships certified by the FIA.
"I literally have no words to express my feelings right now," said the young female charger.
"It’s been my dream for so long, since I started karting; being with Ferrari is amazing. And now, actually winning is just unreal and I’m super happy and thankful to the whole Ferrari Driver Academy and FIA for all their hard work, thank you very much.
"It’s been an amazing experience, I’ve learned a lot but definitely COVID made it difficult to travel and to be there on time. But also the other girls have made it very tough to be here right now and it’s been amazing; I’m lost for words still!
"It’s my first season in F4 so I’m looking to improve myself every single race and it’s a huge honour to be with the Ferrari Driver Academy and to represent them and FIA Women in Motorsport.
"I’m going to make them proud and give everything I have and I’m going to aim for a top position, of course."
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Weug surmounted the final hurdle of the selection process by impressing a distinguished group of judges at an evaluation camp at Maranello that involved off-track assessments, workshops and finally two days of track time at Fiorano onboard an F4 car.
Weug beat fellow finaists Doriane Pin of France, who is 17, and Brazilians Antonella Bassani, 14 and Julia Ayoub, 15.
"This is a key moment in the history of Scuderia Ferrari and its academy," said Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto.
"Over the course of this year, Maya will progress along with us and also take part in one of the F4 championships Certified by FIA, the category seen as the first step in single-seaters on the road to Formula 1.
"Maya's arrival is a clear indication of the Scuderia's commitment to making motorsport increasingly inclusive, in line with the hashtag supported by the entire F1 community, We Race As One."