The teenage karting champion setting her sights on Formula 1, Daniella Sutton, racing driver

Karting champion Daniella Sutton may only be 15, but she’s setting her sights on something huge.

Since her first experience in a kart at TeamSport Trafford Park at the age of 6, Sutton has enjoyed an enviable rise in racing. 2023 saw her winning numerous trophies, with one of the highlights being her fourth-place finish in the prestigious Daniel Ricciardo series. What started as a hobby has quickly turned into a potential career path, with an exciting chapter opening up as she switches from karts to cars for the first time, competing in the Fiesta Junior Championships.

For International Women’s Day, Daniella spoke to us about how her passion for motorsport has developed over the years and how her sights are firmly set on becoming the UK’s first female Formula 1 driver.

What was your first karting experience?

My dad took me for my sixth birthday to TeamSport Trafford, which was originally Daytona. At first, I actually didn’t want to put the suit on. I cried because I didn’t like the feel of the suit and didn’t want to put the suit on, but as soon as I got that helmet on and got in the car, I loved it!

Daniella Sutton on the podium
How did karting change from a hobby to a potential career path?

It was more of a hobby and not a very regular thing up until I was about ten and then we started going more regularly to indoor kart tracks. When I was eleven we were like, ‘Well, why do we take it further?’ Someone suggested the Daniel Ricciardo series and to race in that I had to get my Motorsport UK license for karting. Once I acquired my Motorsport UK license for karting, we took it very serious from then on, realizing that I wanted it as my career path.

I competed at Shenington for my first ever race and it was just amazing. Even though I was towards the back of the grid, it was like, wow, I’m racing with such amazing drivers and inspirational drivers as well, such as Alisha Palmowski. Alisha is one of my good friends now, she raced in the Ginetta Juniors last year and is looking to take her career further within motorsport.

How easy is balancing racing with school?

Alongside racing, my academia is very important because obviously the main goal is to become a racing driver, but you always have to have something to fall back on. I try and catch up with school as much as possible and sometimes it is tough, but my teachers help me a lot and the school support me with my racing. I think the hardest thing is when I’ve been sick

What is your planned route to reach F1?

We know that there are lot of women-driven ambitions these days to get women into the sport, such as the F1 Academy. We’re competing in the Fiesta Junior Championship this year, so we’d be looking then further along the line at trying to get scouted for the F1 Academy if possible, because if a rally driver has done it, it doesn’t mean a tin tops driver can’t as well.

How difficult is it to battle through illness when racing?

I have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis as well. So, I’ve had a lot of time out of school because of that. But then I manage to catch up in school, which is the main thing. Then also fitness comes into play as well, to be a high-performing athlete, you need to work on your fitness because of the G-forces endured during the racing. If you are physically fit, you’ll be mentally fit as well to be able to tackle any tasks at hand on track. I often find that the adrenaline helps, so the adrenaline of the racing, takes the pain away if I do have any pain. My arthritis is manageable at the moment with Immunosuppressant medication called Adalimumab and so that helps my body to stop fighting itself essentially. I don’t really get that much joint pain, but if I do, then we manage it with Naproxen, which is an anti-inflammatory.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I want to see myself racing at the highest echelons of Motorsport that I physically can but to do that, I’ll need backing from sponsors such as yourself and other people who are willing to support me on this journey.”

We look forward to continue to follow Daniella’s incredible journey in the season ahead and all of Morson will be cheering her on. 

Visit our PathFinders hub for more inspirational stories, ranging from world champion Boxer, Natasha Jonas to Countdown host and influential STEM ambassador, Rachel Riley.

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