THE F1 ACADEMY SEASON SO FAR17 May 2023
The inaugural season of F1 Academy saw the green light to go racing at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on April 28th. The brand-new, all-female racing series – with backing from Formula 1 – gives 15 talented young racers the opportunity to jump in the fast-lane and climb the ladder to hopefully, one day, reach the pinnacle of global motorsport: F1. Five teams – all of whom race in Formula 2 and Formula 3 – consist of three drivers each and will travel across Europe, with the season culminating at the United States Grand Prix at COTA in Austin as a Formula 1 support event. Four of the 15 drivers are British – Abbi Pulling (Rodin Carlin), Chloe Chong (PREMA), Chloe Grant (ART Grand Prix) and Jessica Edgar (Rodin Carlin). Each driver claimed their F1 Academy seat by following a different pathway, from racing in W Series to racing in the GB4 Championship. Now two rounds in, F1 Academy is well underway and giving young female talent an opportunity to shine on a global stage in motorsport, as well as giving audiences some incredible racing that’s not to be missed...
Round One: Red Bull Ring, Austria
British driver Abbi Pulling kickstarted her F1 Academy campaign at the Red Bull Ring by securing Pole for Race 1 and Race 3 in wet conditions. However, all three Rodin Carlin cars and drivers were disqualified from both Qualifying sessions as a result of a technical breach, stripping Abbi of her Pole position. Spaniard Marta García was gifted Pole after Pulling’s disqualification, and she maintained P1 throughout the race, securing her first win of the season. Race 1 was not exempt from drama after qualifying. French driver Lola Lovinfosse received a penalty after coming together with Emely de Heus, who was forced to retire with damage. Lena Bühler and Carrie Schreiner’s races also ended early after taking avoiding action in the de Heus incident, but ending up in the gravel.
PODIUM: P1 MARTA GARCIA, P2 NEREA MARTI, P3 BIANCA BUSTAMANTE
Race 2 was a successful outing for Dutch team, MP Motorsport, whose three drivers secured points. Hamda Al Qubaisi fought through the pack to gain 10 positions, starting the race in P15 and crossing the line in P5. Meanwhile, Abbi Pulling fought hard from the start with PREMA Racing teammates García and Bustamante. She was the only British driver to finish in the top 10, crossing the line in P8.
PODIUM: P1 AMNA AL QUBAISI, P2 LENA BÜHLER, P3 LOLA LOVINFOSSE
Marta García once again took the grid by storm as she charged from lights to flag in first place. Her PREMA teammate – Bustamante – was supposed to start alongside her, but she was unable to pull away from the line. García pulled a two-second advantage over the rest of the pack in the first two laps. Rising British star, Chloe Chong, made up places in the race but unlike her three fellow Brits, she didn’t take points. Abbi Pulling finished in P4, Jessica Edgar in P8 and Chloe Grant in P9.
PODIUM: P1 MARTA GARCÍA, P2 HAMDA AL QUBAISI, P3 AMNA AL QUBAISI
Round 2: Circuit Ricardo Tormo
One of the Spanish drivers on the grid, Marta García took double Pole – for races one and three – during qualifying in Valencia. However, in the first race, her lead was snatched after an overtake by MP Motorsport’s Hamda Al Qubaisi at turn one on the first lap. The Emirati driver took her maiden F1 Academy win. Her sister and fellow teammate, Amna Al Qubaisi, was handed two five-second penalties for track limits. The polesitter, and one of the home heroes, García finished in P6. Two of the four Brits – Chloe Grant and Jessica Edgar – finished in the top 10.
PODIUM: P1 HAMDA AL QUBAISI, P2 NEREA MARTÍ, P3 LENA BÜHLER
The second race saw two PREMA drivers on the front row, including Chloe Chong, who started in P2. A Safety Car on the first lap backed the pack up after contact between de Heus and Schreiner. The former received a black flag from the race stewards after gaining help from the on-track marshals to re-enter the circuit. Filipino Bianca Bustamante lined up on Pole and led the race from lights to flag, taking her maiden trip to the top step in F1 Academy and flying the flag for her home nation. She finished the race with a 0.7 second gap to Lena Bühler in second place.
PODIUM: P1 BIANCA BUSTAMANTE, P2 LENA BÜHLER, P3 HAMDA AL QUBAISI
Abbi Pulling started P2 on the grid but lost a place to second home hero, Nerea Martí. Elsewhere, fellow Brit Jessica Edgar was battling to make places in the pack but contact left her with front wing damage and no choice but to pit for repairs. Chloe Grant and Lola Lovinfosse came together with six laps to go, resulting in a Safety Car. Grant received a five-second penalty for track limits. On the final lap, a collision which left Chong and Gilkes trapped in the gravel allowed Edgar to recover to take the final point of the race. She finished behind Grant, who took P9 in the final race of the weekend. Marta García’s win is not only her third of the season so far, but it gives PREMA their fourth win out a possible six.
PODIUM: P1 MARTA GARCÍA, P2 HAMDA AL QUBAISI, P3 NEREA MARTÍ
After two rounds and six races in total, Marta García leads the standings with 97 points, followed by Hamda Al Qubaisi in second with 71 points and Nerea Martí in third with 53 points. The next round of F1 Academy takes place in Barcelona on 19-21 May.