The much-anticipated test for prospective W-Series drivers will be held this week, between 31 January and 4 February 2022, at the Inde Motorsport Ranch in Arizona. The test will feature a group of 14 talented drivers from around the world, over half of whom are recent karting graduates under the age of 20. This weekend, they’ll be given the opportunity to prove their skills in an F4 car for the chance at a coveted W Series seat. Here are some of the most talented under-20s participating in the test.
By Aisha Sembhi
Julia Ayoub (Brazil, 16)
Julia Ayoub is familiar with young talent programmes, having established herself as a go-to choice for those seeking to develop young motorsport talent and pushing for diversity within the field. In 2018, she was one of only two female drivers selected for the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy. Similarly, in 2021 the young Brazilian racer was selected for the second edition of the FIA Girls On Track Rising Stars program, which was launched in collaboration with the Ferrari Driver Academy.
At only 16 years old, Ayoub has already made strong debuts in international competitions, establishing herself as a worthy challenger to a more experienced field. Her first season as an FIA-accredited athlete came in 2019, when she entered the FIA Karting European Championship, FIA Karting World Championship, and the 24° South Garda Winter Cup. The following season saw Ayoub compete in the Ayrton Senna Karting trophy, where she was crowned champion in the women’s category.
Tereza Babickova (Czech Republic, 18)
Tereza Babickova is one of three Czech sisters aspiring to the top flight of motorsport, all of whom have spent the last year cramming their already remarkable racing portfolios with even more wins. She has established herself as a fierce overtaker; at the 2021 ROK Cup Superfinal, she initially qualified fourth before storming to victory within her heat. Babickova was a dominant presence throughout the final, remaining in the top three throughout the race and contesting the win. Ultimately, she finished in 3rd place.
Similarly, she made an impressive start in qualifying for the 2021 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Bahrain, taking two early victories in the senior class and eventually being crowned champion in the senior MAX class. With this victory, Tereza was the only woman on the final podium after a highly contested grand final and demonstrated her potential to fill that all-important F4 car seat in W Series.
Bianca Bustamante (Philippines, 16)
Though only 16 years old, Bianca Bustamante has established herself as a force to be reckoned with within Asian competition. She has an impressive portfolio of karting championships to share: she’s a three-time Macao International Kart GP Champion, two-time Junior Asian Karting Open Championship Overall Champion, and a two-time AAP National Karting Series Senior Class Champion – and the list goes on.
Her 2022 has already kicked off to a busy start, with F4 US tests with Doran Motorsport Group. Bustamante was also named Philippine Driver of the Year in Karting three consecutive times in 2018, 2019, and 2020, as well as Philippine Karter of the Year in both the junior and senior categories in the same years. She’s also an FIA Girls on Track Rising Star, being the only driver of Asian descent to be selected for the programme, as well as the only Asian driver selected for the W Series test.
Maite Cáceres (Uruguay, 19)
Maite Cáceres might very well be the future of motorsport in Uruguay. She comes from a line of motorsport professionals – her father, Fernando, was a rally driver, whilst her brother, Juan, raced in Champcar and Italian Formula 3000, and remains the only Uruguayan to ever test a Formula 1 car. Cáceres is nationally recognised and met with the vice-president of Uruguay in August last year to share her experience in national competitions.
Her first taste of success came in San Jose during the Uruguayan National Karting Championship, where she achieved her first podium. She then made her debut in Uruguayan Formula 4 in October 2021. Cáceres demonstrated her worth with a podium finish in El Pinar, after an intense wet race where she initially qualified last.
Chloe Chambers (United States, 17)
Chloe Chambers has been racing for half her life – literally. With eight years of karting experience under her belt, it’s no surprise the young racer has been rapidly climbing the motorsport ladder. In 2021 she became a world record holder, when she successfully broke the record for the fastest vehicle slalom. She set a new benchmark pace of 47.45 seconds in a 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder.
In 2021 she competed in the Formula 4 United States Championship with Future Star Racing, with sponsorship from Parella Motorsports Holdings. With Chambers’ success comes a dedication to philanthropy. She is affiliated with Shift Up Now Athlete, a programme designed to increase female visibility and participation within the top flights of motorsport. Alongside her F4 campaign, she is an ambassador for Gift of Adoption, an organisation designed to give vulnerable children permanent homes.
Nicole Havrda (Canada, 16)
Nicole Havrda is the youngest driver selected for the W Series test. She’s only been karting for three years, but after she attended the 2018 Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, she was inspired to make the swap from swimming to racing.
Havrda has already established herself as a potential future star of Canadian motorsport, being named the 2021 Junior Rookie of the Year at the West Coast Kart Club. She has competed in a variety of karting events throughout North America, including a strong 3rd place finish at the Western Canadian Karting Finals, narrowly missing out on a win after a contentious race. In 2021 Havrda continued her climb to the top of the grid, securing an impressive 2nd place at the Rotax West karting final last year after starting from the back of the grid.