MP Motorsport’s Hamda Al Qubaisi was fastest on the pre-event test day for F1 Academy’s first ever races at the Red Bull Ring.
ART Grand Prix’s Lena Buhler was the first to lap at a representative pace in the three-hour morning session, before a flurry of improvements from Megan Gilkes, Carrie Shreiner and then Abbi Pulling. Buhler responded to Pulling lowering the pace into the 1m33s by setting a 1m33.535s, but Pulling then set a 1m33.359s on her next lap.
Buhler also improved on her next effort, setting a 1m33.156s, but Pulling again went 0.049 seconds faster and then broke into the 1m32s.
That kept her on top for almost half an hour before Rodin Carlin’s Jessica Edgar set a 1m32.740s, a benchmark that was shortlived as a minute later Prema’s Marta Garcia started a new fastest lap contest with Pulling. The latter prevailed after several laps with a 1m32.202s, which was the benchmark laptime for 25 minutes.
Prema’s single-seater rookie Chloe Chong set a 1m32.231s to go second-fastest after an hour-and-a-quarter had passed, then usurped Pulling with a 1m32.154s. In the first hour there had been a red flag stoppage, and Campos Racing’s Maite Caceres did not record any laps after it and missed session two.
The order at the top changed approached the session’s halfway point, as Buhler set a 1m32.029s to lead Chong by 0.022s. A few minutes later Chong got into trouble on track and caused a second red flag stoppage, with the track emptier than before when green flags eventually waved again.
That meant there were no improvements of note until the final hour, as Al Qubaisi went fastest and improved three times in a row to go over 0.3s clear with a 1m31.719s personal best.
Chong was the next driver to lap sub-1m32s, but not until a while later, then Buhler improved in third with a 1m31.818s that was set with 10 minutes to go.
The track was a hive of activity after that, with Garcia lowering the pace to 1m31.331s. Al Qubaisi responded with a 1m31.184s effort, then with five minutes to go lapped sub-1m31s to cement her position on top.
All but Gilkes set their fastest lap in the final minutes, with the order shuffling and ending with Al Qubaisi leading Chong by 0.388s and with Garcia 0.451s back in third. Pulling had sunk to 10th before her last lap jumped her back up to fourth, and the top 11 were covered by 0.996s.
It took 40 minutes before someone set a lap in the afternoon session, with Emely de Heus initially fastest.
After 75 minutes it was Al Qubaisi in front, a 1m31.965s putting her 0.612s clear of sister Amna, while Prema’s drivers had not left the pits.
Pulling was fastest at the session’s halfway point, having lowered the pace to 1m31.541s, and a few drivers disputed third place over the next half-hour.
There was then a period where most of the drivers were in the pits, with the track only becoming busy again in the final 18 minutes.
Hamda Al Qubaisi reclaimed first place with 14 minutes to go, then Garcia went just 0.004s faster with nine minutes remaining. Al Qubaisi responded a few minutes later, going fastest by 0.151s, then Garcia bettered her by 0.009s with three minutes to go.
The session finished with those two on top, and Pulling only 0.095s behind. The top eight were covered by 0.888s. Only five drivers set their best lap in session two.
Pre-event test results
|1||Hamda Al Qubaisi||MP Motorsport||1m30.880s||78|
|5||Amna Al Qubaisi||MP Motorsport||1m31.288s||+0.408s||69|
|7||Nerea Marti||Campos Racing||1m31.547s||+0.667s||63|
|8||Lola Lovinfosse||Campos Racing||1m31.566s||+0.686s||61|
|9||Emely de Heus||MP Motorsport||1m31.647s||+0.767s||79|
|10||Lena Buhler||ART Grand Prix||1m31.675s||+0.795s||89|
|11||Carrie Shreiner||ART Grand Prix||1m31.853s||+0.973s||78|
|12||Chloe Grant||ART Grand Prix||1m31.876s||+0.996s||85|
|15||Maite Caceres||Campos Racing||no time||2|