Gaining and losing Renault Formula 1 support while in Formula 4 pegged back Marta Garcia’s single-seater career, but she bounced back in style in Formula 3. Elliot Wood asks if she could be 2020 W Series champion
There is a hint of the no-nonsense Kimi Raikkonen when talking to Marta Garcia, as she fits in an interview with Formula Scout in between pressing university work (and online lectures), time on her new home simulator and an intense physical training programme to prepare her for when the second W Series season kicks off (provisionally) sometime in July.
Like much of the world she is currently living in a coronavirus-enforced lockdown rather than setting laps at a race track, but the recent arrival of a simulator means she’s now able to rack up the virtual miles.
“I?m doing physical training, some bike rides, and working with the sim,” Garcia says. “I?m trying to do everything to be as fit as possible, but with what I have at home. And I?m also doing other activities that I wouldn?t usually be able to do as much, like cooking. I?m just trying to be busy all day.
“Life could be even harder, more boring, but for now it?s been quite OK. I got my simulator three days ago, so I can train there and give myself more entertainment. I have a routine of uni, sim, training, uni, sim, training…”
Mileage has frequently been a sticking point for former karting star Garcia, having started car racing with a part-time Spanish Formula 4 campaign before her Renault-backed run to ninth in the points in 2017. A combination of Renault withdrawing its support and a lack of budget meant she returned to karts for 2018.
Her return came in shifter karts, but it was in OK-Junior equipment where she had enjoyed most of her success. During that time she picked up FIA support, and in 2015 won the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy winner and prestigious Trofeo delle Industrie. After that, Garcia had one of her first runs in a single-seater via a Ferrari Driver Academy-organised Prema F4 test.
Prior to her F4 race debut in 2016, she stepped up to senior karts and was fourth in the CIK-FIA European Championship.
It was another female-supporting initiative that brought Garcia back to single-seaters in 2019: the brand new W Series. The step up to regional Formula 3 was a leap, especially as she had been out of a car since her last Spanish F4 race, but her pace in a Euroformula test at Barcelona not only showed she was ready for F3 but cast her as one of W Series’ title favourites.
“My first year in W Series was quite good. My target was to be top five, and I came fourth. I won a race, which was super great. But I had some bad races, and I think that was because of the kind of tracks. I?m more used to slow corners [in Spain], and Brands Hatch for example was a really fast track. And it was more difficult for me as I was also missing confidence in the car.”
To combat that lack of confidence, and to follow up on her impressive Norisring win, Garcia visited the Austrian countryside over the winter to try out driving on a variety of low grip surfaces – including ice and snow. It was a cheaper way of working on car control than visiting a circuit with a single-seater, although Garcia also did that in the Tatuus T-318 regional F3 car rather than race in the Toyota Racing Series with the MP Motorsport-supported Kiwi Motorsport team as originally planned. If all goes to plan, then Garcia will still join up with MP offshoot Manor Competition to race in the Eurocup on occasion this year.
While Garcia didn’t have her eye on hitting any rally stages like management stablemate and fellow F3 star Lukas Dunner after her first off-road attempts, she didn’t rule it out and may hit the Austrian slopes again once travel restrictions are lifted.
Garcia’s primary ambition this year is to win the W Series title, and she could start the season with a win. In 2019 she focused on her education until after the third round, and once free to focus purely on racing she took her first pole and win in a convincing manner straight away. The 2020 season may start at the Norisring, and Garcia would be odds on to repeat her win.
That first success required an improvement in performance that Garcia pointed out to Formula Scout at the time, and she knows another improvement is required if she is to beat the likes of Jamie Chadwick and Beitske Visser to be champion.
“With W Series rotating engineers, mechanics and the cars, I’ve got to know a lot of Hitech GP engineers, and from other teams. I’ve learned from them a lot of different things, as every one works differently and you can learn from every single one.
“As I’m not in a car at the moment, it’s quite difficult to know if I’ve improved and feel more confident. But being on the sim and the time for more physical training will help for sure.”
D/O/B August 9, 2000
2020: W Series and select Formula Renault Eurocup rounds
2019: 4th in W Series (1 win, 1 pole)
2017: 9th in Spanish F4, 17th in F4 NEZ
2016: 8th in Spanish F4
2018: 8th in Spanish Championship – KZ2, 56th in CIK-FIA European Championship – KZ2
2016: 4th in CIK-FIA European Championship – OK, 9th in WSK Super Master Series – OK, 19th in Rotax Max Wintercup – Senior, 35th in CIK-FIA Int. Super Cup – KZ2
2015: CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy winner, Trofeo delle Industrie winner – KFJ, 4th in CIK-FIA European Championship – KFJ, 5th in Spanish Championship – OKJ, 9th in WSK Final Cup – KFJ, 13th in CIK-FIA World Championship – KFJ
2014: 2nd in Spanish Championship – KFJ, 10th in Rotax Int. Open – Junior, 14th in CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy
2013: 2nd in Spanish Championship – KF3, 9th in CIK-FIA Int. KFJ Super Cup, 25th in CIK-FIA European Championship – KFJ
2012: 4th in WSK Final Cup – 60 Mini, 10th in Spanish Championship – Cadet
2011: 8th in Spanish Championship – Alevin