AN eight-year-old from an East Riding of Yorkshire village has embarked upon a long journey which for the best could lead to sporting greatness.

Bonnie Neilson from Hayton near Pocklington has been selected to progress to the second round of a girls-only drivers’ programme on a pathway which could see the first female Formula One driver on the grand prix circuit since 1975.

Her dad Mike, an IT Architect at Portakabin and F1 fan since British team McLaren’s domination of the sport in the late 1980s, said he and his daughter are glued to the TV screens during the racing season and an Easter holiday trip to a Leeds go-karting track got the wheels turning for real.

York Press: Bonnie with proud parents Mike and Rachel along with younger sister IndieBonnie with proud parents Mike and Rachel along with younger sister Indie (Image: Kevin Glenton)

A 580 metre-long circuit at the TeamSport Leeds go-kart track played host to Bonnie’s first steps, as part of an organised global talent identification programme across 35 venues for female karters, launched under the umbrella of F1 – the ‘official home of Formula 1 racing.’

Bonnie, who was competing in a category of girls aged up to 12-years-old, crashed on the third corner of her first ever lap in a go-kart.

Mike Neilson said: “She’s always been really competitive and despite the big crash, after getting the OK from the marshals, she kept going and knocked 15 seconds off her lap times by the end of the third session of the day.”

Bonnie said: “I just went full speed and tried overtaking people.”

Mike said the organisers sent an email soon after saying she showed real promise and invited her to the next round of the kart racing pathway, beginning with five coached sessions starting on April 23 to get the girls ready to compete in junior levels of the sport.

The programme, called F1 Academy Discover Your Drive, aims to promote and increase female participation in motorsport on and off the track.

York Press: Bonnie at the TeamSport track in LeedsBonnie at the TeamSport track in Leeds (Image: Mike Neilson)

The talent identification programme dovetails with community and youth engagement programmes.

At the upper echelons comes improved access towards seats in Formula 3, and also features a calendar of seven rounds of races, some on Formula 1 grand prix circuits.

Drivers Jessica Edgar and Abbi Pulling are currently flying the flag for Great Britain in these events at racetracks beloved of F1 fans such as Circuit de Barcelona and Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore.

Bonnie Neilson has been picking up tips from favourite F1 driver Lando Norris’ You Tube channel, although she admits she enjoys his paddock hide and seek games just as much as watching him find the apex of a corner.

The new starter at Warter Church of England Primary School said: “My friends there think what I’ve done so far is really cool, especially as one of them had a birthday party at a go-karting track.”

Mike said he is looking for funding support as Bonnie moves up the pathway.