The CEO of the all-female W Series championship believes that Ferrari’s commitment to introduce women into its prestigious driver academy are not simply a marketing gimmick.

Ferrari recently announced that Arthur Leclerc would join its junior programme, alongside Mick Schumacher, Giuliano Alesi and Enzo Fittipaldi. Team principal Mattia Binotto said he hoped that it wouldn’t be long before a female driver was added to the roll call.

But that hasn’t gone down well in some quarters, with German driver Sophia Floersch dismissing it as “just marketing stuff” for the sake of diversity, rather than recognising true talent among women drivers.

But Catherine Bond Muir, chief executive of the W Series, instead contended that Ferrari’s commitment to developing female talent in motorsport was actually a significant step forward.

“I don’t think it is just a marketing plan,” she told Crash.net this week. “I think that they really genuinely want to see if they can get a women into F1.

“Obviously I would hope that driver would come from W Series,” she added.

“I know that Ferrari have come under some flack on social media,” she acknowledged. “But what we all have to remember is that if we cast our minds back to a year ago, there weren’t very many women involved in motorsport at a high level.

“If you look back to the amount of times that you were writing about women in motorsport, it was much, much less than it is now,” she pointed out. “I think that is what we have to applaud.

“The tide is rising for all women in motorsport and I think what Ferrari are trying to do is to help that tide to rise.

“If they can attract a young superstar and take them through their academy and be the first team to get a driver into F1, then frankly hats off to them.”

Jamie Chadwick's 2020 car with ROKiT branding

© W Series

Inaugural W Series champion Jamie Chadwick already has one foot in the F1 paddock as part of the Williams Driver Academy, undertaking development and simulator work for the F1 team.

And Tatiana Calderon is set to make history as the first female driver in the Japanese Super Formula series in 2020. She’ll also be part of an all-female entry in this year’s 24 Hours at Daytona alongside Katherine Legge, Ana Beatriz and Christina Nielsen.

The W Series and Japanese Super Formula will both reward this year’s champion with 15 points towards an F1 superlicence, after the FIA overhauled the system to put single-seater championships including Indy Lights, Formula Renault Eurocup and Euroformula Open on an even footing.

Drivers need at least 40 points to be eligible to take part in an official Formula 1 test session or race weekend.

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