Home Formula 4F1 Academy Garcia and Pulling top pre-season tests for new F1 Academy series

Garcia and Pulling top pre-season tests for new F1 Academy series

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Marta Garcia and Abbi Pulling topped the two pre-season tests for the new all-women F1 Academy series.

The Formula 4 championship has been launched by Formula 1 following the demise of W Series, and features five teams running three cars each.

The first test ran at Barcelona on April 11/12, with each day containing two three-hour sessions. It took 19 minutes before a single lap was set on the first morning, with Prema’s Garcia posting the first benchmark.

She lowered the pace to 1m43.957s in the first 27 minutes, with only four other drivers setting laps, then three more drivers joined the action before Campos Racing’s Maite Caceres brought out red flags after stopping on track.

Garcia had a gap of 0.382 seconds over team-mate Bianca Bustamante until MP Motorport’s Amna Al Qubaisi set a 1m43.225s to get within 0.032s of Garcia after 53 minutes had passed.

Al Qubaisi ended the opening hour on top, setting a 1m42.264s to go 0.929s clear of Garcia. Campos’s Nerea Marti halved Al Qubaisi’s advantage after 80 minutes, and it wasn’t until the session’s second half that 14 drivers had set flying laps. The exception was Al Qubaisi’s sister Hamda, who went the whole day without lapping at a representative pace.

As the track warmed up there were less cars on it, but in the final 10 minutes of the morning drivers headed out to improve their pace and Garcia retuned to first place with a 1m41.308s. Bustamante was 0.406s behind in second, with ART Grand Prix’s Lena Buhler 0.684s back in third and Al Qubaisi in fourth.

Track temperatures were even higher in the afternoon, leading to even less track action, and Campos’s Lola Lovinfosse was the early pacesetter by 0.001s over Marti.

Bustamante set a 1m42.905s to lead the way after the first hour, then Amna Al Qubaisi brought the pace down into the 1m41s and finished 0.318s ahead of Rodin Carlin’s Marta Garcia and 0.387s clear of Buhler.

Marti was the only other driver within a second of the pace, with Garcia, Bustamante, Carrie Schreiner and Chloe Chong not improving on their morning pace.

Increasing temperatures meant a similar story on day two, and Garcia was fastest in the morning with a 1m40.748s set in the session’s first half. She was 0.271s faster than Pulling, and 0.353s up on Amna Al Qubaisi. This time the top nine were covered by a second, with everyone setting personal bests, and Hamda Al Qubaisi could run at pace but was 2.656s slower than Garcia.

Garcia was fastest through much of the afternoon, with track temperatures over 43°C, but very late on there was a flurry of improvements that put Pulling on top by 0.254s over Lovinfose and 0.543s over Bustamante while Garcia was shuffled down to sixth. Nobody was able to beat their morning laptimes, meaning Garcia was fastest overall.

The Paul Ricard test ran on April 18/19, and the first day was split into four sessions. Hamda Al Qubaisi was fastest in session one by 0.033s over Garcia, setting a 1m27.892s, and 0.896s covered the top seven.

Garcia lowered the pace to 1m26.772s in session two, with Pulling 0.049s behind and Martia 0.142s back in third. Carlin’s Megan Gilkes only managed to do five laps so did not improve her pace.

Pulling topped both afternoon sessions, setting a 1m27.047s to lead Buhler by 0.252s in session three. Amna Al Qubaisi was 0.408s off the pace in third, and along with Chloe Grant, Schreiner and Gilkes went faster than in the morning.

All but Garcia and Al Qubaisi improved in session four, with Pulling’s session-topping 1m26.292s putting her 0.204s clear of Marti.

Pulling was the benchmark for most of the next morning’s first session, but lapped slower than the day before and dropped to fifth at the session end as lots of drivers improved. Garcia set a new fastest lap for the test, a 1m26.230s, and was 0.272s faster than Buhler in second place.

It was a reversal of fates in session two of the morning, as Garcia was in front until Pulling lowered the pace to 1m26.163s with one of her last laps before pitting. Garcia was just 0.088s slower, and Lovinfosse and Bustamante were both four tenths of a second back in third and fourth. Along with Pulling and Schreiner, the pair were the only drivers to set personal bests in the session.

Pulling was fastest in the test-ending afternoon session by 0.576s over Garcia and 0.680s over Jessica Edgar. Amna Al Qubaisi, 0.705s back in fourth, was the sole driver to improve their pace.

Pre-season testing results
Barcelona Paul Ricard
Pos Driver Team Time Laps Pos Driver Time Laps
1 Marta Garcia Prema 1m40.748s 134 1 Pulling 1m26.163s 121
2 Abbi Pulling Carlin +0.271s 103 2 Garcia +0.067s 134
3 Amna Al Qubaisi MP Motorsport +0.353s 140 3 Marti +0.333s 122
4 Bianca Bustamante Prema +0.771s 125 4 Buhler +0.339s 127
5 Nerea Marti Campos Racing +0.771s 131 5 Lovinfosse +0.430s 119
6 Lena Buhler ART GP +0.812s 125 6 Bustamante +0.462s 128
7 Lola Lovinfsse Campos Racing +0.842s 128 7 H Al Qubaisi +0.534s 116
8 Jessica Edgar Carlin +0.938s 130 8 Edgar +0.866s 117
9 Emely de Heus MP Motorsport +0.996s 152 9 Chong +0.931s 106
10 Chloe Chong Prema +1.153s 125 10 Grant +0.977s 122
11 Maite Caceres Campos Racing +1.591s 137 11 Schreiner +0.981s 124
12 Chloe Grant ART GP +1.635s 126 12 A Al Qubaisi +1.090s 133
13 Megan Gilkes Carlin +1.692s 123 13 Caceres +1.112s 119
14 Carrie Schreiner ART GP +1.858s 121 14 de Heus +1.200s 145
15 Hamda Al Qubaisi MP Motorsport +2.656s 81 15 Gilkes +1.272s 101