by Jacqueline Harmuth
On the weekend, two promising young female drivers have achieved an impressive milestone towards their future: 15-year-old Belgian Aurelia Nobels and 13-year-old Zoe Florescu Potolea from Romania won the third edition of the FIA Girls on Track programme. After months of intense testing, training and competition, the two winners of the Senior and Junior category will now kickstart their professional racing career with the help of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
The innovative programme for young female drivers
Launched by the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, the FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars programme is designed to detect and nurture young female racing talents of the ages 12-14 (Junior Category) and 14-16 (Senior Category). Registration for this year’s third edition opened in May and was followed by multiple stages of selection: 146 FIA-affiliated national sporting authorities worldwide held selection procedures out of which 16 girls were chosen to attend training camps at the Paul Ricard Circuit in Le Castellet, France. In total, eight finalists were selected by an international panel of experts to compete in the final stages, which took place in November at the Ferrari Driver Academy in Maranello.
Up first was the grand finale of the senior category in early November, where four young women had to complete a challenging five-day programme filled with theory lessons, physical and attitudinal tests, media work as well as sessions in a simulator. Lastly, the finalists were able to show off their skills in a Formula 4 car at Ferrari’s own Fiorano circuit. The Junior Finale two weeks later wrapped up the 2022 FIA Girls on Track edition: In four busy days, the four young girls completed a karting camp under the supervision of the Ferrari Driver Academy. Off-track assessments, such as mental training and media activities, were followed by two more days at the Autodromo di Franciacorta race track where the finalists had the opportunity to develop their skills and receive invaluable feedback.
In the fast lane towards the future
After an analysis of the performance and potential of the young drivers by FDA engineers and a team of experts, the two winners were announced on 2nd December. Aurelia Nobels was voted the winner of the Senior Category and is awarded a one-year contract to join the Ferrari Driver Academy programme and will compete in the 2023 FIA Formula 4 Italian Championship with the Iron Dames. Marco Matassa, Head of FDA, is looking forward to work with her: “Aurelia immediately stood out in the way she managed the various stages of the programme. She beat three very competent opponents, immediately getting to grips with the Formula 4 car, a key category for a budding driver.” But the three other senior finalists won’t be left empty-handed either: Alice Buckley, Chloe Chong and Chloe Grant will become part of a “talent capsule” providing them with racing career support and various driving development opportunities.
Winner of the Junior category, Zoe Florescu Potolea will move on to compete in the 2023 OK Junior Karting Championship as a member of the Tony Kart team with support from the Ferrari Driver Academy. Filled with joy and pride, Zoe said: “Honestly, I can’t believe it. It has been an awesome experience throughout the programme in Paul Ricard and in Franciacorta.” The Junior category of FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars was launched last year as an extension to the original four-year programme. President of FIA Women in Motorsport, Deborah Mayer is looking forward to the next season of Girls on Track: “Bringing more women into motor sport requires to widen the base of the pyramid and we will develop further this strategy in the future.” The third edition of the FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars programme has now ended but according to the FIA, registrations for the fourth will open soon.
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