By Aliki Kraterou and Dilantha Dissanayake
Meet the schoolgirl who shuns the playground in favour of RACE CIRCUITS – and is set to become the UK’s next big Formula 1 superstar.
Amelie Acketts, 10, from Southampton, Hants, spends her free time racing cars at speeds of 55mph – even though she’s seven years away from getting her driving licence – and has even been scouted by F1 bosses as an up and coming star.
Brave Amelie first got interested in racing aged just four, when her uncle Paul was building his own vehicle in the garage, before taking her first spin around a go-karting track aged six.
The pint-sized prodigy was selected to represent UK Karting at the British F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone last month as one of the 20 children on the grid with the drivers at the starting ceremony, after winning a competition run by Motorsports UK.
Amelie said: “I think I first got interested in cars when I caught daddy watching NASCAR on TV so I started watching with him, and then when my uncle worked on his car in the garage and I helped on that.
“I love everything about racing – the speed, the adrenaline, having fun with my friends in circuit on practice days, and working on the kart whenever I can.
“I would love to be a motorsports engineer as well as an F1 racing driver and I am also very interested in science.
“I would say to other girls my age who like cars to try it, no matter what anyone else says, go for it and don’t let anyone get in your way.
“I think you need to get them in the circuit and actually drive the car until they realise they actually love it.
“The message I want to get out is that girls can race equally as boys.”
Amelie got her race license for go karting in March after passing a theory and a practical test, similar to a normal driver’s licence.
And while the youngster, whose favourite subject at school is science, admits her friends think her hobby is unusual, she is determined to get more girls into motorsports as at the moment she is the only girl in her racing class in a grid of 25 children.
Her parents James Acketts, 43, an IT worker and Julie, 41, a teacher, say they couldn’t be prouder of their daughter and support her in every way they can.
Dad-of-one James said: “I think what got her interested was when my brother built his own vehicle – we were modifying it in our garage and Amelie came up and asked if she could help, so she started helping and get more involved.
“She has an interest the engineering of the car as well as driving – she showed an interest in watching racing on the TV.
“I took her to the NASCAR just to see whether she was actually interested or she was just humouring me but she really loved it.
“A friend mentioned he takes his daughter karting at a teaching race car track – I bought her the modules for her sixth birthday and that’s how she got into it.
“As parents, we are very proud – we probably held her back a little bit more than we should on the racing side, we wanted her to get a bit older.
“But we are definitely promoting her doing the engineering side of things because she loves the science.
“It’s her dream and we fully support her.”
Amelie recently realised that she can get young drivers’ lessons for a normal drivers license as soon as she is 11 and of course she can’t wait.
The 10-year-old, who wishes her school offered engineering lessons, added: “I am actually a fan of all the drivers but if I had to choose, then team-wise at the moment, probably Redbull and Mclaren.
“However, in terms of drivers, I guess I am supporting all the young guns who are coming up through the sport, originally this was obviously Max Verstappen, but this year, I would say especially Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc, but also George Russell and Pierre Gasly.
“Also in 2021 I am hoping there may be some more girls in Formula One, as they have recently announced W Series will start awarding Super license points in 2020 in the same way as Formula 3 does already.”