The, for now, sole Swiss representative in the Girls on Track Rising Stars program, developed by the FIA WIM commission, is 14 year old Toni Naudé. She will be one of 20 drivers to compete for a seat in the Ferrari Driver Academy, and a full F4 season.
Toni started karting back in 2016, at ten years old. She immediately knew that is where her passion lies.
“Karting instantly had me hooked and after I went testing with a professional team I decided that this was me. This is what I wanted to do and have a lot of fun doing it.”
In 2018, Toni finished fourth in the Schweizer Kart Meisterschaft, in the OKJ class. This year, she is participating in the FIA Karting European Championship and the WSK Euro Series. She won a race at the ROK Cup Italia at the end of August, and has done some F4 simulator sessions in 2020.
Her schedule sounds very busy for someone who is also still in school, but luckily Toni’s teachers and classmates completely support her , and she has enough time to spend with her friends.
“I was really lucky regarding my school. My teacher was really supportive and understanding of this sport. He gave me the condition that he would give me the time off school if I would maintain good grades and always catch up on school work. So as soon as Id got back from races I’d ask a classmate to fill me in on what I missed and then catch up on the work. I am away quite a lot for karting, yes. However, it doesn’t mean that I don’t spend any time with my friends. The free time that I do have, I spend with them. We go out shopping, go to the lake… just spend time together. So the racing really isn’t an issue when it comes to me and my social life.”
Toni’s biggest idol Niki Lauda followed a different path into motorsport than her, competing in Formula Vee instead of karting. Nevertheless, the young Swiss driver aspires to be like her hero someday.
“I admired him for his driving and also his passion for driving. I found it absolutely shocking and amazing that even after that huge accident, [his] love for the sport was so big, that he got back into the car. I really admire his willpower and strength and I really hope to be like him one day.”
Not only does she hope to follow in Niki’s footsteps by racing in F1, she also hopes to be a part of changing the face of the sport.
“Of course, my goal would be f1, like many other drivers. But I also hope to inspire other girls out there to be a part of the Motorsport community. I hope someday that there could be as many girls as boys out racing. I would like to give them my insights about how racing is and how much time and effort is put into it. I hope that one day it won’t be seen as a ‘boys sport’ but rather a sport where both genders could come together and enjoy the sport together.”
The Women in Motorsport Commission from the FIA is trying to change the sport too, by now giving one girl a chance at a Ferrari Driver Academy seat. The first step to getting that seat, and one full season in Formula 4, is to impress at the shootout that will take place at Paul Ricard in October.
“Well of course I hope to do well. I have been on the track before, it’s really tricky and not what I’m used [to], but I think it will be fun. I do know some of the girls who are also participating and we’re good friends. But I’m also excited to meet the others and I hope that we can all have fun together.”
After the shootout, twelve drivers will be selected to partake in a karting and an F4 training camp. From there on, four girls will attend a course at the Ferrari Driver Academy. One driver may then get the chance to drive for the FDA in F4 in 2021.