The first of 15 drivers who will contest Formula 1’s new all-female junior series has been announced.
Bühler began karting seven years ago having previously raced BMX bikes. She moved into racing cars in 2020, finishing 15th in the Spanish Formula 4 championship.
The following year she moved into the Formula Regional European series with R-ace GP, managing a best finish of 20th. Her return the following year was cut short, but she returned to racing in the Formula 4 UAE series this year. Her overalls bore Sauber Academy logos at this week’s round in Kuwait, but no formal tie-up has yet been announced.
Bühler said she was pleased to be joining “a team with a fantastic record”. ART has won multiple championships in other series and taken four current drivers to titles at Formula 2 (previously GP2) level: Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Nico Hulkenberg and Nyck de Vries.
“It will be a great challenge for me and for the team as we learn more about this new single-seater,” Bühler continued. “I am looking forward to coming to grips with it.
“This will only be my fourth year in a motorsport and I still have a lot to learn, but I am ready to give 100% both mentally and physically to honour the trust ART Grand Prix has in me, together with that of my partners without whom this adventure would not be possible.”
ART will face competition from MP, Rodin Carlin, Campos and Prema in F1 Academy. Team principal Sébastien Philippe said entering the series “corresponds perfectly to the philosophy of ART Grand Prix, which is to help young drivers climb the ladder of the junior formulas which lead to the highest level of motorsport.”
“The team will do everything sportingly, humanly and technically possible to take up this new historic challenge with Léna,” he added.
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26 comments on “First driver confirmed for new female junior racing series F1 Academy”
2nd February 2023, 11:50
I thought F1 Academy was going to be for young drivers?. 24 seems rather too old for an F4 level series.
This seems to be falling into the same trap as W Series. Hiring older / more physically developed drivers who have no chance of reaching F1, who will overshadow the younger ones who actually stand a chance.
2nd February 2023, 12:04
It’s not falling into the same trap as W-series – it’s jumping into it.
And it’s not even a trap because everyone knows what will happen, having seen it all play out for 3 years already.
2nd February 2023, 12:10
Maybe, but age is just one thing. For example, Red Bull says Tsunoda needs three years to get to grips with F1, while plenty of others don’t. Former F2 champion De Vries is making his full time debut now, and is older than plenty of current drivers. Alonso is old by any sporting standard, but he’s still putting in strong drives at a rate not many can match.
Calling this the F1 Academy is quite an oversell, but if a couple of drivers can make their way into F3 (and not be outclassed by their teammates) then that’ll already be much better than the W-series. Still think the way teams like Iron Lynx handle promoting women in motorsport is the better way to go, but we’ll see if this works out as well.
Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
2nd February 2023, 12:53
Younger the better, 24 is too old, 14 is too old. They should be supported in grass roots karting at the same age as the boys start. It’s the only way. Do it the same as the boys.
2nd February 2023, 13:06
Remember this is an exercise in visual representation.
Boys and girls can start at the same time – but for the most part, they just don’t want to.
If ‘we’ aren’t careful, it may reach the point where girls become pressured into motorsport in the same way they are currently pressured into other activities such as tennis, swimming or athletics.
Is that a positive outcome?
2nd February 2023, 13:27
F1’s latest champions all started young and were heavily ‘encouraged’ by their fathers. Some might say pressured, especially judging by the comments of said fathers that these drivers were able to repeat word for word years, even decades later.
As Max Verstappen recently recounted his father’s reaction to a karting loss:
2nd February 2023, 14:24
Yeah. Exactly…. How many other kids had the same pressure but didn’t get the ultimate reward?
It won’t just be boys in this potential future….
2nd February 2023, 15:50
Tons, and while it may be boys in karting it’s girls in other sports and activities. Recent infamous examples being in gymnastics and figure skating, where it was sometimes outright abusive. The common theme is parents putting way too much pressure on their kids to ‘succeed’, and starting at such a young age that it becomes debatable if the kids actually had any meaningful say in it.
In that sense, Lena Bühler starting her motorsport career as an adult is actually a good thing. At least on a personal level, even if it maybe does put her at a bit of a disadvantage competitively.
Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
2nd February 2023, 15:33
I think when you say
I think this is a product of the notion that there seems to be no reason why women can’t be as successful as men in motorsport, without stopping for a moment to think whether that is true or not.
As the father of a son and daughter I’d be much more likely to encourage my son in karting that my daughter. When thinking that through I realise I’d be letting my daughter down. If I saw established female racers in F1 I’d be much less likely to fall into that trap.
So when you say of girls
I’d say, more importantly, neither do their fathers want them to. Perhaps that’s where the focus should be.
2nd February 2023, 16:06
“I’d say, more importantly, neither do their fathers want them to. Perhaps that’s where the focus should be.”
Why on Earth would you want to “focus” on changing what is natural? How abour you focus on your daughter pursuing interests that girls – not boys – usually have? Or rather this should be the job of he mother.
2nd February 2023, 17:02
I raced open wheel, ran a moderately successful race prep shop, and took a driver to some success in FF1600, so I was in a position to encourage and support my daughter if she wanted to go racing. When she was the appropriate age to start karts I suggested she could. She was not interested at all, and I accepted that and never pushed her to race. We have a wonderful relationship and I’ve encouraged her in all the things she has wanted to do; she has grown into an amazing woman I am very proud of.
My point? Yeah, it would have been great if she wanted to race, but don’t force your child to do things because you want them to, listen and encourage them in the things she or he is interested in. Your child is not a surrogate you.
3rd February 2023, 0:39
Perhaps they can – I’d certainly like to think so – but the truth is that, so far, they aren’t.
And that’s OK. That’s just how things are.
If it takes visual representation of females in motorsport to change your mind, then that’s the actual problem right there, isn’t it.
Anyone who wants to succeed in sport, or in practically anything else, doesn’t take on the attitude of being a follower – they need the desire to be a leader.
I don’t necessarily agree that we should be further empowering overly keen or overbearing parents to decide the futures for their children. Give them the tools to live and opportunities to learn and decide for themselves – but I don’t think it’s wise to make the choice for them.
3rd February 2023, 1:31
Just thinking about this for a moment – does this work both ways? Do you think you would be letting your son down if you didn’t encourage him to take up a career in retail, hospitality, healthcare or education? (All female-dominated industries now.)
I mean, your son has just as much right to be interested in – and make a career of – makeup, jewellery, fashion and/or personal care as your daughter, right?
Or would you still need more male visual representation in those industries first?
Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
3rd February 2023, 8:55
I generally agree with what you say S, but ask yourself why more girls don’t get into motorsport at a young age? You can’t just say “because they don’t want to”. Why don’t they want to?
I think it’s because they are dissuaded and not encouraged to by there friends and family. As you have mentioned this works the same for boys in other industries or pursuits. Wouldn’t it just be better if there was no negative pressure?
Yes, that’s true, but why should there be a social cost? A possible loss of family support or even connection? This is a barrier for young girls in motorsport.
Visual representation obviously has a negative connotation for you. I don’t particularly like it either, but it might be a necessary evil. In fact it’s a bit of a red herring anyway. I don’t think it will work, but it doesn’t matter because the world is changing anyway. The coming generations of parents will be much less affected by gender stereotypes when supporting their children’s early step in the world.
3rd February 2023, 11:04
I guess because they just don’t. Not everyone finds motorsport to be attractive or enjoyable – even for a few minutes. Not engineering, not speed, not noise, not smells, not the atmosphere. None of it.
Add that motorsport is a particularly expensive pursuit, and many families will simply never want to or be able to take their kids to experience it – either as a participant (ie, go kart hire) or as a viewer (at a race meeting). It’s also becoming increasingly difficult to experience it via TV….
That’s probably true for a great number of people – though I’d suggest that those people wouldn’t be the ones making it to the top levels of anything if that’s their motivation, or a source of reservation.
Literally everything in life has a cost. Nothing is all positives.
Consider that a girl who gets into motorsport will likely be a person who is more happy focusing on themselves and machines, or hanging around with boys rather than meeting up with other girls and doing stereotypical girly things.
And let’s also acknowledge that females (generally, as an entire gender) tend to be more socially motivated and more people-oriented in what they choose to do with their lives.
There are always exceptions, of course – and it’s really only some of those exceptions who may become interested in participating in motorsport.
Even for males, very very few are interested in pursuing a career in it. It’s a niche market – and for females, it’s a niche in a niche. That’s just where humanity is at.
That’s a fair assessment. Probably an understatement, to be honest.
Indeed – society is evolving regardless of all these token symbolisms. There’s no need to fake it – it will find its own equilibrium. And when it does it will be because that’s the way it’s supposed to be – not because it was forced to be that way.
2nd February 2023, 15:05
Just because this driver is older than Max Verstappen and started their career in auto racing at the spritely young age of 22 doesn’t mean we’re not looking at a future Formula 1 World Drivers Champion.
3rd February 2023, 0:53
At least she was successful, running in top 20 in national championships. Yep. Another serious attempt (to make a reality show).
2nd February 2023, 18:47
How are these drivers chosen? I seem to recall the W Series choices were problematic at best; I hope they’re doing a better job with this.
2nd February 2023, 20:24
Well, we know at least one coditio sine qua non, and it’s, unfortunately, one that limits the talent pool to the point of apparently not even being able to fill the 15 seats of this series with young talent.
2nd February 2023, 12:16
It’s hard to say this without sounding harsh, but here I go.
The first driver to be announced by a new series is a 25 year old driver that is still driving F4 level cars – and not good, but a backmarker.
Great showing, F1 Academy. This is going to end well.
2nd February 2023, 14:59
Yeah, no. I’m done.
2nd February 2023, 15:33
Firstly, Congratulations Lena! Keep working and learning just like everyone else that gets an opportunity like this. I hope it leads to something bigger for her.
Secondly, I think the shouting, “25 is to old, this is supposed to be about young drivers”, is baseless. Most drivers that move into F4 or F3 before really knowing if they can make it in F1, have 4 to 8 years of lower driving category experience regardless of their ages. Lena has 3 years karting and 4 years in open wheeler cars, she is a young driving talent and definitely still developing. Lena made it to open wheelers in 3 years after starting her path…that is incredible! Saying she has no chance is a bit unfair, because we do not know how her path or standing within her teams played out. Was she taken seriously behind the scenes or was she treated differently because she is a women and always thought, “yeah yeah whatever, just drive what we give you”. We don’t know this, it could have been positive and she was unable to perform, we just don’t know. Ask Halie Deegan, she has reported to have been shrugged off many times by a few her crew chiefs early in her career because they never trusted her. She made her strides by proving she can feel the car and the changes she wanted actually worked.
Third, my issue with all of this is when will the creating a series for women spec formula end? Woman more than deserve to be treated equal and to be in any category as the men at any age. What makes people think that they will be able to compete with Lewis or Max if they never drive against those high level talents in all ranks with the same level of team support? That’s the real experience a young driver should be getting.
Fourth, it is the F1 Academy, designed to develop young drivers…keyword DRIVERS, not men or not women, but DRIVERS. If they want to tackle this social issue of inequality of women in F1, mandate some rules that teams are required to be co-ed up through F3 or F2. Set a standard that forces teams of feeding categories outside of FIA’s scope to take into account both sides and encourage more inclusion so both boy and girls get equal experience together. More talent will eventually emerge and the difference or indifference will be moot as time goes on.
Once again, congratulations Lena Bühler
2nd February 2023, 19:24
So does this compete with the W series, or are the merged, or what..? I think that’s an initial hurdle for this series…what is it..? Why create another women’s category when the only 1 in town has struggled.
2nd February 2023, 19:44
@millionus Yeah, has W Series officially folded? It kind of seems like they’ve just taken W Series for themselves.
2nd February 2023, 19:31
Why the negative comments? It’s a series for female racers. It’s not age limited. Ignore the name, that’s just marketing speak.
It’s not as if there are dozens of female racers in junior categories fighting for these seats. Basically if you have had any experience of motor racing in the last 5 years you are a shoo-in for a seat. Just look at the careers of the W-series drivers, lots of them had been “between contracts” for a few years before they got the call.
I’m sure Lena will do fine. And maybe be a better racer at the end of the year than she was at the start, which is supposed to be the point of the series.
3rd February 2023, 0:49
It’s a series only for female racers.
Exactly – most of them aren’t ready for it, nor would they justify the opportunity otherwise.
I don’t think that’s the point of this type of series at all.
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