Extending the Formula 1 Engineering Scholarship is just the latest step in a “long journey” to improving diversity and inclusion in the sport, says F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.
The programme was launched last year following a US$1 million donation from F1 Non-Executive Chairman Chase Carey, and has since supported 10 students from underrepresented groups at leading universities in the UK and Italy.
READ MORE: Formula 1 extends Engineering Scholarship programme to 2025
Following its success, F1 has extended its funding commitment by an additional four years, allowing scholarships – that pay for tuition and living expenses for the duration of the degree – to be offered to 10 students per year from 2022 to 2025.
“It’s a long journey and we’ve just started,” said Domenicali. “It was the right thing to do, to be more inclusive. We believe we can attract people from the sporting perspective, but we have a duty to attract people from a different background to be involved in the actual business.
“This is great because we will give the opportunity to anyone who is able to fulfil the criteria for this programme to play a real part in shaping the future of F1.”
The news came after F1 invited the scholars to its head office in London to meet Domenicali, before they spent time with F1’s Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds and Head of Vehicle Performance Craig Wilson.
The last group of students involved in the next phase will graduate in 2029, signalling F1’s medium to long term commitment to making the sport more diverse and inclusive in the future.
“A success will be if you are able to say in terms of diversity and inclusion, we were able to show with numbers and quality,” added Domenicali. “Numbers are not only enough. It’s quality that we want to achieve, that will enable people who in normal conditions could have more difficulties to be part of this group of people involved in the shaping of the future of F1.”
READ MORE: Formula 1 announces scholarship, apprenticeship, and intern placements for underrepresented groups
It’s Domenicali’s ambition that the programme continues to grow and develop in the coming years, with the extension of the programme expected to create interest from other universities, as well as the initial roster of institutions across the UK and Italy.
“I’m sure we will be in touch with other universities and schools, which will be interested to be part of the programme,” he added. “We have no limits on that – we can decide to involve other universities, other schools and more students in the future. This is just the start. We are dedicating resources to this project. ”
There is buy-in from the teams, too, which means there will be opportunities for the students – including within F1’s organisation, which has already recruited interns and apprentices that have started their roles.
READ MORE: Hamilton Commission makes 10 recommendations in first report on representation of black people in motorsport
“We saw the positive reaction from the teams, who are totally aligned with the initiatives,” said Domenicali. “They are participating to the process of the selection, and the process of the decision of where the student has to go. It is another statement of an aligned common goal.”