Prema’s Marta Garcia claimed the victory as well as the inaugural F1 Academy title in the opening race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, the series’ first to be broadcasted live.
Rodin Carlin’s Abbi Pulling in second and ART Grand Prix’s Lena Buhler in third joined Garcia on the podium. This result boosted Buhler vice-championship aspirations, as her main rival Hamda Al Qubaisi finished down in seventh position. This weekend marks also the first time F1 Academy features on Formula 1 support bill.
Garcia started from pole position after topping Friday’s first qualifying session, which set the race one grid and where she was fastest for most of its duration.
Her main rival coming into the weekend, Buhler, lined up in fourth place having been first early on in qualifying but then struggled to improve. Between them were Pulling and Campos Racing’s Nerea Marti, who was the only driver to lower her laptime in the fourth and last of the flying laps completed in qualifying one.
Both Garcia and Pulling got away well from the front row. The Alpine junior attempted a move for the lead at turn one, but the Prema driver held on to first place around the outside.
The two drivers went side by side into the high-speed corners that followed, but there was no position change as Garcia continued to lead. Further down the order, Carlin’s Jessica Edgar advanced Buhler, who had a slow start, taking fourth place.
An accident involving MP Motorsport’s Emely de Heus, ART GP’s Chloe Grant and Campos’ Maite Caceres on lap two brought the safety car out. Caceres dived into the inside of Grant, who closed the door as much as she could, at turn one and they clashed at the apex. De Heus on the racing line came into the corner and made contact with Grant, who ended up sandwiched.
All three drivers retired as a result, and the medical car had to be deployed to help Caceres out of the car.
The race resumed at the end of lap six of 12, with Buhler reclaiming fourth place from Edgar at the first corner. Buhler kept her momentum going and got past Marti for third at that same place. Marti tried to fight back at turn 11 but couldn’t, and she ended up under pressure from Edgar.
Marti soon opened a one-second gap to Edgar, who fell under pressure from Prema’s Bianca Bustamante and MP’s Hamda Al Qubaisi. A mistake from Edgar at turn 11 allowed Bustamante through to fifth place with two laps to go.
Meanwhile, Pulling continued to put pressure on Garcia as they fought for the victory. Pulling came close to make a move on the back straight, but she wasn’t close enough and settled for second in the end.
|3||Lena Buhler||ART Grand Prix||+2.647s|
|4||Nerea Marti||Campos Racing||+6.161s|
|7||Hamda Al Qubaisi||MP Motorsport||+8.387s|
|9||Amna Al Qubaisi||MP Motorsport||+10.949s|
|10||Lola Lovinfosse||Campos Racing||+12.861s|
|11||Carrie Schreiner||ART Grand Prix||+14.548s|
|Ret||Emely de Heus||MP Motorsport|
|Ret||Chloe Grant||ART Grand Prix|
|Ret||Maite Caceres||Campos Racing|
1 Garcia 260 2 Buhler 202 3 H Al Qubaisi 185 4 Marti 169 5 Pulling 161 6 A Al Qubaisi 114 7 Bustamante 112 8 de Heus 81 9 Edgar 78 10 Lovinfosse 64