Motor racing’s premier Formula 1 (F1) series has struck a deal with Hello Sunshine, the women-focused media company founded by Hollywood actor Reese Witherspoon, to produce a docuseries following the F1 Academy all-female development category.
The series will offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpse of all 15 drivers across the five F1 Academy teams, highlighting the drama of the races, as well as the personal stories of the drivers and their teams.
Witherspoon will executive produce the series alongside Sara Rea, Hello Sunshine’s head of unscripted. Formula 1’s head of original content Isabelle Stewart will executive produce the series on behalf of F1 Academy.
Sarah Harden, chief executive of Hello Sunshine, said: “F1 has established itself as not only a global powerhouse but also a forward-thinking competition that is committed to creating equal opportunities for women.
“As the remarkable women of the ground-breaking F1 Academy prepare to make history, we’re honored to have the opportunity to document the many captivating narratives both on and off the track.”
The series comes on the back of the success of F1’s docuseries Formula 1: Drive to Survive on streaming service Netflix, which has so far produced five seasons. It is credited with boosting the series’ international brand and subsequent commercial opportunities, especially in the US.
F1 announced the launch of F1 Academy in November last year as an “extra route” up the motorsports pyramid for young female drivers alongside W Series, the international women’s championship that is targeting a return for a fourth season after having its 2022 campaign cut short due to financial difficulties.
At the time, the series said it hoped the F1 Academy would accelerate the timeframe for female drivers to progress up motor racing’s pyramid and into the top tier of the sport.
The last woman to race in F1 was Italy's Lella Lombardi, who competed in 17 grands prix from 1947 to 1976.
Susie Wolff, managing director of F1 Academy, said: “F1 Academy is going to drive change in the motorsport industry as we create the best possible structure to find and nurture female talent both on and off the racetrack.
“We want to inspire women around the world to follow their dreams, and by partnering with Hello Sunshine, who are leaders in telling inspirational female stories, we will reach a global audience and empower the next generation of young women to break down barriers in motorsport and beyond.”
F1 Academy began its inaugural seven-event season in Austria last month (April 27 to 29) and will race at five more global locations before concluding its season supporting the F1 weekend at October's United States Grand Prix in Austin.
The series is due to stage its second round this weekend (May 5 to 7) in Valencia, Spain, before heading to Barcelona (May 19 to 21).
From there, the series will go to the Zandvoort circuit in the Netherlands (June 23 to 25) and Monza, Italy, from July 7 to 9. The drivers will then head to Le Castellet in France for the penultimate round on July 29 to 30 before the series finale.
Next season, the series is set to join the F1 support grid, which will likely see it broadcast alongside Formula 2 and Formula 3 on set weekends.