Williams Racing has announced that Lia Block will represent the team in the F1 Academy series next year. The daughter of the late rallying legend Ken Block will drive for ART Grand Prix, the team that will also be running McLaren’s Bianca Bustamante in the F1 support series aimed at preparing female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition.
“I am so excited to be joining the Williams Driver Academy and competing in F1 Academy in 2024,” said the 17-year-old. “This is something I never could have dreamed of. I can’t wait to embrace this new experience and learn as much as possible.”
As well as racing under the Williams banner in F1 Academy, Block will also work closely with the F1 team at its Grove, UK base.
“We are excited to welcome Lia to Williams Racing as our F1 Academy driver for 2024,” said Williams team principal James Vowles. “Lia has already achieved a tremendous amount in motorsport, has incredible natural talent, and the champion mindset and dedication to make a success of her journey into open-wheel racing.
“We cannot wait to get started on this journey together. As a team, we are committed to Formula 1 and F1 Academy’s joint efforts to improve female representation in motorsport, and we look forward to working with Lia as a key part of the Williams Racing Driver Academy.”
While Block’s career to date has almost exclusively been in the off-road arena — combining championship-winning runs in the American Rally Association’s Open 2WD class with campaigns in Nitrocross and Extreme E — she has previously expressed an interest in circuit racing, as well as competing in karting events since she was 11 and testing open-wheel cars in the last couple of years.
News of Block joining the Williams fold comes after RACER revealed in July that two F1 teams were keeping an eye on her progress. Derek Dauncey, who has long worked with the Block family as a mentor and team manager, said at the time that Block had a “big interest” when it came to potentially racing in F1, adding that she is “not like her dad” and that when it came to driving, she is the “anti-Ken.”
Upon Williams’ announcement, Dauncey took to Instagram to say he was “Extremely proud of Lia.
“Her talent has been noticed at the highest level of motorsport,” he said. “I would personally like to thank Williams Racing Sven Smeets, James Vowles and James Matthews for the this opportunity and trust shown in Lia.”