Motor racing’s Formula 1 (F1) has announced the calendar and format for the inaugural season of its new all-female development category, F1 Academy.

The series is set to feature seven events, with 21 races in total, including a season finale supporting the Formula 1 weekend at the F1 Grand Prix in Austin.

The season starts in Spielberg, Austria on April 28-29, then heads to the Spanish cities of Valencia and Barcelona on May 5-7 and May 19-21 respectively. From there, June 23-25 will see the drivers go to the Zandvoort circuit in the Netherlands.

After going to Monza in Italy from July 7-9, they’ll head to Le Castellet in France for the penultimate round on 29-30 July.

The calendar is designed to feature as many F1 tracks as possible, to provide an opportunity for the 15 drivers to develop their technical skills and prepare them to progress to higher levels of competition within F1.

Six drivers have been signed for the inaugural season so far, with Alpine junior Abbi Pulling and Sauber Academy’s Lena Buhler joining Jessica Edgar, Bianca Bustamante, Nerea Marti, and Carrie Schreiner. The final nine drivers are yet to be announced.

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They will take to the track for the first time at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from April 11 to 12 for testing.

Bruno Michel, general manager of the F1 Academy said: “I’m very pleased to reveal the calendar of F1 Academy’s inaugural season.

"Our goal was to be able to race on as many Formula 1 Grand Prix tracks as possible, with circuits that could be a great challenge for the drivers. The teams know these layouts very well, so they will be able to help their young talents get to grips quickly.

“We had announced that F1 Academy would be racing alongside Formula 1 at one event, so it’s fantastic to be part of the F1 Grand Prix package in Austin, where we will also conclude the first season, in front of the F1 paddock and the American crowd.

"There is quite a gap in between Rounds six and seven, but that is mainly due to the fact that we will be sending the cars and equipment by ship, to save on logistical costs.”

F1 Academy has also confirmed its race weekend format, with three races per event. Each round will feature two 40-minute free practice sessions, followed by two 15-minute-long qualifying sessions.

The first qualifying session will set the grid for race one, while the second will set the order for race three and the drivers who achieve pole position in each of these sessions will receive two points. Race two’s grid will be set by reversing the top eight drivers from qualifying one, with ninth and below lining up in the positions they qualified in.

Races one and three will be 30 minutes long and award 25 points to the winner, while race two will be a slightly shorter 20 minutes and offer 10 points. One point for the fastest lap time will be up for grabs in each race, provided the driver finishes within the top 10.

F1 announced the launch of F1 Academy last year, with F1 president and chief executive Stefano Domenicali stating: “F1 wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to create greater diversity and routes into this incredible sport.”

He added the Academy aims to give the drivers “everything they need to move into F3 and hopefully F2 and then the pinnacle of F1”.