Could the first female Formula One Champion come from the Midlands?

The Midlands racers come from all walks of life and are of differing experience, but one goal unites them - to be the first Female Formula 1 Champion. Credit: Formula Woman

This week a select group from the Midlands will go up against one another and 62 others in a global contest to win a massive prize in racing- one of four seats in a McLaren GT4 570s in the 2022 GT Cup Championship, a British Sports car championship.

They come from all walks of life and are of differing experience, but one goal unites them - to be the first Female Formula 1 Champion.

The competition was set up to encourage more women to get into motorsport and to set someone on the pathway to being a professional in F1. It's staggering that out of the final seventy competitors for the top prize eight come from the Midlands.

It would have been nine, but one had to withdraw as it clashed with her Rally driving commitments. 

So who are the 'Magnificent Eight' who could bring glory to the Midlands one day?

They range from a sixth form student who's a karting star to a 40-year-old who was told she had terminal bowel cancer.

Alicia Barrett Credit: Formaula Woman

Alicia Barrett

Alicia is just 18 years old and is from Southwell in Nottinghamshire. In her final year of A-levels at Worksop College, she wants to study Zoo Biology at university.

But she has a big ambition and focus when it comes to racing, having done it since she was eight years old in karting. She hasn't raced for two years due to funding issues but says Formula Woman has given her the amazing opportunity to help make that happen.

Her dream is to become a professional racing driver and wants to inspire other women in doing so. 

Laura Jones Credit: Formula Woman

Laura Jones Laura, who's 29-years-old, is from Hinckley in Leicestershire.

She grew up with a love and passion for cars and motorsport which was passed down from her father who himself used to do hill climbs and road rallies.

At the end of 2017 Laura lost her mum through suicide. She says it opened her eyes and made her realise life is too short to not be doing what you want to do.

That week she quit her job with horses and started building up experience within motorsport.

First as a grid girl for British GT with a GT3 and then from there moved to becoming a mechanic both in the UK and worldwide - mainly working on the GT4 McLarens in the GT Cup but also European Rally X, World GT, single seaters, Ferrari challenge, Ginetta and many more. This is very much the dream for her.

Kichelle Malone Credit: Formula Woman

Kichelle Malone

Kichelle is a wife and mother to two young boys who's always been into cars and motorsport from a young age.

As soon as she had passed her test, she was modifying her own car.  Her husband works for Jaguar Land Rover and Kichelle works for DS Motorsport UK.

She says you will find them most weekends out in the garage with the children working on cars. She saw Formula Woman advertised in March 2021 and thought why not give it a go!

It’s been a dream of hers to compete in motorsport since she was a young girl and Kichelle hopes to inspire more women to move out of their comfort zone and see what they are able to achieve.  

Sophie Umhofer Credit: Formula Woman

Sophie Umhofer

Three and a half years ago Sophie, who's from Kenilworth, was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer and when going through treatment, being mostly bed bound and unable to work, she got into motorsport as a distraction and hobby.

When she started getting better, Sophie looked into volunteering in the sport and fell in love with it as she started working at the Silverstone Museum.

After reading about Formula Woman, she jumped at the chance.

Remarkably, Sophie discovered last year just before her 40th birthday, a day she was told she wouldn't live to see, that she was in remission.

Her life has since been completely turned around- now cancer free, she's in the finals of Formula Woman and is doing it for her two children  to show them you can do anything you really want, even if it is scary!

Rebekah Apparicio Credit: Formula Woman

Rebekah Apparicio

It is Rebekah’s natural talent that saw her make it this far as she has no prior experience in motorsport.

A dog groomer by trade, running her own business in Solihull, she has a passionfor the sport, inspired when she got together with her partner Joe seven years ago. They even have a life-size racing car simulator in their bedroom! Rebekah said she cried after hearing she had made the final seventy and cannot wait to compete this week. 

Sabrina Higham Credit: Formula Woman

Sabrina Hingham

Sabrina, who's 30-years-old, is from Leicester and is currently a quality control and reporting coordinator for a magazine subscription company.

She found out about the competition via social media at the beginning of 2021 and wasn’t going to enter due to her social anxiety and mental health. 

Only a small handful of people know she has entered so far. Sabrina is honest in that she has no racing experience- just a love for motorsport, cars and Formula 1.

She entered the competition to push herself out of her comfort zone.

Rebecca Mellor Credit: Formula Woman

Rebecca Mellor

Rebecca decided to take on the Formula Woman challenge after previous experience on the track with her motorbike five years ago.

Loving the adrenaline, the 30-year-old knew that if she could make this her everyday ‘job’ she would be in her element.

Day-to-day she manages a holiday lodge park, fishery, café and bar and has her own construction company, a Class 1 truck license and is in the process of opening up an equestrian and country store. But the end goal is to be at the top of F1!

Eliza Seville Credit: Formula Woman

Eliza Seville

Eliza, who's 23-years-old, is currently a motorsport mechanic and entrepreneur and also has her own women's utility workwear company.

Her day job involves building electric LMP3 cars and piloting them whilst they drive autonomously to help develop their software, with Eliza having been a motorsport mechanic for six years after starting at the National College for Motorsport at Silverstone.

Apprenticeships with a race team called TF Sport and traveling the world with the European Le Mans series championship followed before becoming self-employed and building various historic F1 and Group C cars from the 70s. Eliza's grandfather was an amateur racer back in the day and she is hoping to follow in his footsteps!

Any of these women could end up winning Formula Woman and find themselves racing in the GT Cup Championship. Although that remains the goal, all say they are just delighted to have got this far. 

800 started the contest and now the women are on the final corner, with the chequered flag in sight on the home straight.