The first grant will see the Ignite Partnership collaborating with Motorsport UK and the organisation’s FIA Girls on Track UK programme, who will expand their reach to 8,000 girls and young women from ages 8 to 24 through the support of Ignite. The Girls on Track UK programme has been running since 2016 and aims to inspire, connect, and showcase underrepresented groups in motorsport, with a special focus on female representation.
With a priority on increasing participation from pupils from ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, Girls on Track UK will be developing new partnerships to reach more communities with high representation from low-income and minority ethnic groups.
Motorsport UK aims to increase the Girls on Track UK community by introducing new schools to the programme, with at least 50% of the participants qualifying for free school meals to inspire, connect and showcase the career opportunities available in motorsport to young females.
Hugh Chambers, Chief Executive Officer at Motorsport UK, commented: “Motorsport UK is committed to using our reach and influence effectively, ensuring we are making a positive contribution to society. It’s important that we’re not only engaging in the conversation around equality, diversity and inclusion, but using our platform to make a difference through meaningful action with like minded organisations and partners.
We’ve made great strides through our Girls on Track UK programme, introducing thousands of girls and young women to the opportunities that are available to them in motorsport.
We are delighted that Sir Lewis and Mercedes, through their Ignite partnership, have recognised the work and impact of Girls on Track UK. We’re excited to be working with Ignite and look forward to extending our outreach, welcoming new members into our community and showcasing that motorsport is a safe, fun and fair environment for all.”
Ignite will also support the Royal Academy of Engineering, who will establish a motorsport scholarship programme for at least 10 Black students across the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years.
The Academy will select an annual cohort of at least five qualifying final-year undergraduate students, funding each student in a specialist MSc in engineering or an associated discipline sought after by the motorsport industry.
These students will also be provided with £25k to cover tuition and living costs, along with wrap around supports through networking events and motorsport experiences, with the objective that within two years after completing the MSc, 90% of scholarship awardees will have gained employment in the engineering sector – with majority in the motorsport sector and Formula 1.
Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Ignite team on this important endeavour. The Hamilton Commission report highlighted the lack of transition of Black students from engineering degrees into Formula 1. The Royal Academy of Engineering has a successful track record of improving the career prospects of students from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, through our award-winning Graduate Employer Engagement Programme. The new motorsport scholarship programme will provide students with additional specialist motorsport knowledge and skills and give them the confidence and ability to apply for and thrive in this exciting field of engineering.”
With its inaugural grants, the Ignite partnership has funded two very different types of programming – from inspiring a broad cross-section of young women to consider the opportunities motorsport can offer, to the targeted funding of graduate education to enable scholars to enter the high-performance motorsport engineering sector. This reflects the breadth of ambition of the partnership, as it looks to support the creation of a more diverse and inclusive motorsport sector.
Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Co-Owner and Team Principal Toto Wolff said; “These two grants demonstrate the wide range of opportunities that can make a meaningful contribution to the Partnership’s overall goal. From inspirational motorsport events and experiences that will show the power of possibility to thousands of girls and young women in the UK – to academic support for some of the brightest and best Black engineering students in the country – we intend for each initiative to make a tangible contribution to building a more diverse and inclusive motorsport industry.”