Abbi Pulling halts 2021 British F4 campaign due to lack of funding
Abbi Pulling, one of the most promising up-and-coming British single-seater drivers, announced she is halting her sophomore British F4 campaign due to a lack of funding.
Abbi Pulling was likely the revelation of the 2020 season: at 17, she completed an outstanding rookie season in British F4 with four podiums to her name and finished sixth in the standings, only marginally missing out on her first win in a couple of occasions. The young British driver soon started to work with Alice Powell – one of the world's top female racers and W Series race winner – who became Pulling's mentor and coach. The duo worked well together and Abbi's development in the series was one of the year's biggest stories. Towards the end of 2020, Pulling made her debut in Formula 3 machinery, as she entered a round of Formula Renault Eurocup in Imola, evaluating a move to Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine in 2021. Eventually, she re-joined JHR Developments for a second season in British Formula 4, with the aim of fighting for the title. Pre-season testing indeed proved that the 18-year old racer had the pace to compete for victories in every round, but a series of unfortunate events left Pulling with disappointing results that in no way reflect her potential. Mixed weather and wrong tyre strategies cost her a couple of potential shots at victories – namely at the season opener in Thruxton, when the young Brit was leading – difficult qualifying sessions due to unlucky tyre calls, as well as several incidents caused by other drivers. In 2021, Pulling has scored three more podiums – at Brands Hatch and Thruxton – and is currently eighth in the drivers' standings. "I will no longer be competing in the British F4 Championship. I have had to end my 2021 campaign early due to lack of funding. Due to this, I’ve had some really hard days." – Pulling announced on her social media pages. "There has been so much potential shown throughout the year but runs of bad luck on track have limited me in securing any further funding for this year", she explained. "I’m absolutely heartbroken that this is the outcome, as I thought this year would play out much differently. There have been lots of ups and downs but it will only make me a better, more experienced driver moving forward." "A huge thank you to the British F4 crew for being so nice to me for the last year and a half as well as the boys from JHR Developments. You haven’t seen the best of me yet. Best of luck to everyone for the rest of the season." Abbi Pulling's 2021 racing plans, though, also included a reserve driver role in the all-female W Series championship, where she is part of the 5-driver pool alternating behind the wheel of the PUMA car initially assigned to Tasmin Pepper. Pulling impressed in the pre-season test days at Anglesey, Wales, where she was invited following her remarkable debut in Formula 4. Having been added to the W Series stable, she had the chance to make her racing debut on home soil at Silverstone: at the British GP, Abbi Pulling was on pace straight away and often ran in the top-5 throughout the weekend. She would finish eighth, after one of the most promising debuts in the series. After a few clashes with British F4, Abbi returned behind the wheel of the W Series Tatuus T318 car at Zandvoort, where again she showed speed throughout the race meeting and qualified for the first time in fifth place. She had another solid race and was among the very few drivers able to overtake during the race, proving excellent racecraft. She finished seventh, and is currently one of the only 4 W Series drivers to have scored points in each entered race this year. A talented driver like Abbi Pulling having to interrupt her 2021 British F4 campaign is surely disappointing and a sad reminder of the difficulties of a sport that is not doing enough to address its skyrocketing costs; an unlucky start of the season shouldn't define a driver's career. Her results in the free-to-enter W Series championship, though, should be evident enough to secure Abbi Pulling a seat in the near future, as she will hopefully be granted a chance to continue to learn and move up the ladder of international motor racing.