Abbi Pulling

F1 Academy's Abbi Pulling on her motorsport career so far and what comes next

Abbi Pulling is a British racing driver who has climbed the motorsport ladder in her career so far, from being on the grid in Ginetta GT5 to W Series. Now, the 20-year-old is racing for Rodin Carlin in the all-new, all-female F1 Academy series.


Abbi Pulling's early career

Initially exposed to motorsport in her early years, Abbi thanks her dad’s experience on motorbikes in endurance racing for leading her to a paddock. 

“I always begged him to take me along but I never really wanted to try it for myself until I was 8,” Abbi says. “I went to a go-karting party and I was quite quick at it, then I begged him to go every month.”


Versatility is key

So far in her career, Abbi has raced in different single-seater categories, in the UK, Europe and worldwide. In 2022, she took part in the FIA F3 test and despite having success across a range of categories, Abbi had never driven anything with as much downforce before. 

“It’s really important to be a versatile driver because you never know what you’re going to get thrown into,” she says. “You’ve got to understand the principles of a car and be able to jump from one to another.
“It comes with experience, it’s quite hard to learn it any other way.”


Valuable experience in W Series

Abbi’s versatility as a racing driver was boosted hugely last year when she competed in the W Series championship. There was the potential that Abbi would be out of the car in 2022, but her seat with the Racing X team meant that she had the opportunity to maintain her role as a racing driver and prove that she was at the top of the field and destined for success.  

“Everyone was on top of their game at the beginning of a weekend,” she says. “That’s translated through to my racing this year.
“As soon as I go out, I’m trying to get as close to the limit as possible.”


The unmatched joy of a home podium

The Silverstone round of the 2022 W Series championship proved hugely successful for Abbi, where she finished in third place. Racing at Silverstone so far has given Abbi some amazing memories.

“It was incredible to be driving in front of the British crowd,” she says. “So many people were approaching all the drivers – not just the British – so everyone was getting the love.

“Standing on the podium in front of the home crowd, right in front of the grandstand, was great; it’s a feeling that would be hard to replicate, unless I win at a home Grand Prix.”


Pulling and Powell: advice from a mentor

In 2022, Abbi raced alongside her mentor, fellow Brit Alice Powell. 

Alice has a multitude of experience in the racing world, having competed in GP3 and becoming the first woman to score points in the series to gaining Formula E experience with Envision Virgin Racing. Those aren’t Alice’s only racing experiences however, and Abbi highlights how her mentor has lived and breathed a lot of the things she’s been through. 

In 2021, Abbi ran out of funding to compete, something which Alice experienced, so she was given the guidance to know how to cope with that, how to look at it and how to move past it.

“As hard as it is to look at the positives, there are positives somewhere, you just have to find them,” Abbi says. “If I’m making mistakes, she’s not afraid to be upfront.

“Sometimes, people tiptoe around, trying not to hurt your feelings but you just want to be told straight, and she’ll absolutely do that.”


A helping hand from Alpine Academy

Not only does Abbi have the guidance of a fellow racing driver, but she is also part of the Alpine Academy, which she joined in 2022 as the first female driver to do so.

As part of the Academy, Abbi has access to Alpine’s facilities, from their human performance centre to the operations room. She is able to interact with different members of the team which only boosts her knowledge of the racing world.

“It’s incredible to be working with Alpine and if it wasn’t for them, I most probably wouldn’t be racing this year,” she says. “I can’t thank them enough for the support they give me on and off track.”

Not only does Alpine offer their factory facilities and expertise to Abbi, but they also gave her the opportunity to set foot in an F1 car. Alongside Aseel Al Hamad, Abbi became one of the first female racing drivers to drive an F1 car in Saudi Arabia. 

“I had to keep snapping myself back into reality and tell myself that I’m actually driving a Formula 1 car,” Abbi says. “Being able to feel the power of the car was incredible; so many people dream of doing that and not many people get the opportunity.
“What made it more special was that it was to send a positive message, too.”


Abbi Pulling's experience in F1 Academy so far

This season, Abbi is on the F1 Academy grid with Rodin Carlin, a team that races in various other championships in the UK and worldwide. They have been extremely successful in the past, with their drivers graduating to Formula 1, including the three current Brits on the grid: George Russell, Lando Norris and Sir Lewis Hamilton.

Abbi’s season so far has consisted of ups and downs, but she’s been enjoying every second.

“This is what makes you stronger as a driver, more resilient, and know how to cope with the downs in the future,” she says. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and what it has to hold.”

F1 Academy offers young women the opportunity to race at tracks across Europe and at COTA, as well as providing great seat time, which is a hugely important factor for development. 

“Being able to provide women with such good opportunities for development is huge,” Abbi says. “It’s only positive in the greater scheme of female sport as well.
“Not just in motorsport but in sport as a whole, it’s being pushed out more and only good can come from that.”


READ MORE: The F1 Academy season so far


Age is only a number

Despite starting her racing career later than it might be typical, Abbi highlights that it’s not a bad thing; females physically mature in the sense of their strength a little later than what men do. For Abbi, being a little older doesn’t hurt.

“There’s such a stigma around age in motorsport,” she says. “Ever since Verstappen and Norris came into F1 at a young age, everyone now wants an 18-year-old in F1.
“It’s not always super realistic, male or female.”

However, there are many initiatives which are encouraging more young women to get involved in motorsport and provide them with the knowledge and skills they need in any avenue. Abbi highlights how Alpine’s Rac(H)er programme is doing exactly that.

“It’s not just driver focused,” she says. “It’s endless, the possibilities of jobs you can have in this sport. Alpine are supporting females in engineering, or being a lawyer, or being within social media or graphic design.

“There’s more and more things like this coming about so it’s the best time to be a female in the industry no matter where you are within motorsport.”


What next for Abbi Pulling?

Abbi’s successes so far mean that her potential future endeavours are wide open. 

She is open to racing in any series, from Formula E to Rallycross, which is something different to anything she’s ever done before. However, Formula 1 is the goal for many drivers and Abbi is one of them.

“It’s not really a linear pathway but I’d love to be in Formula 1 one day,” she says. “I know that motorsport is a pretty hard world to be in and opportunities don’t always come up so I’m open minded.
“I would be up for the challenge no matter where I end up.”