LONDON (Reuters) - Ferrari are planning to add female racers to their expanding young driver programme as they seek to develop talent for the future.
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Current leading lights in the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) include Mick Schumacher, son of seven times world champion Michael, and Russian FIA Formula Three champion Robert Shwartzman.
Ferrari’s F1 driver Charles Leclerc, winner of two grands prix this year, came through the academy.
The academy also includes esports, with David Tonizza winning this year’s Formula One Pro Series.
“We are increasing the number of drivers of the Ferrari Driver Academy next year,” Binotto told reporters at the Maranello factory this week.
“A few other drivers will join. I’m not in the position to tell you how many and who, but it’s something on which we are working very hard.
“The Academy also looks for women in the future — women should be part of the Ferrari Driver Academy. That’s something on which we are working right now to make sure that it may happen very soon,” he added.
Formula One has not had a woman driver start a race since 1976.
Ferrari have a history of bringing in highly expensive top talent from outside to the Formula One team, with Leclerc something of an exception.
Sebastian Vettel joined as a four times world champion from Red Bull, while his predecessor Fernando Alonso arrived from Renault, where he had won two titles.
Schumacher also won his first two championships with Benetton.
Mick Schumacher will be competing in F2 with Shwartzman next season along with other FDA drivers Callum Ilott (Britain), Giuliano Alesi (France) and Marcus Armstrong (New Zealand).
Binotto did not rule out Schumacher eventually following in his father’s footsteps.
“I think that next season will be key for him to understand how much he’s progressing,” said Binotto of 20-year-old Schumacher, who made his F2 debut this year and finished 12th overall with one win.
“We are expecting much from the next year because he will have one season of experience and we are pretty sure he’s a good candidate for F1 in the future. Will he be a candidate for the Ferrari either in the future? It’s really too early.
“But again, the aim of the FDA is to find the next talent for Ferrari and he is part of the FDA, because finally, we believe he’s got the talent to stay in this group.”