Abbi Pulling wins first ever Hankook Driver of the Day Award
Abbi Pulling was the recipient of the first ever Hankook Driver of the Day Award in W Series, as the 19 year-old Brit gained one place at the start and equalled her best finish in the series with second in Barcelona.
New for the 2022 season, W Series introduced the Driver of the Day award, presented by the series’ official partner Hankook.
The tyre supplier has supported the all-female championship since its debut in 2019 and the Ventus Race tyre continued to be employed on the Tatuus T318 cars even after W Series’ move as a F1 support series.
The company has in fact embraced the W Series project and its philosophy of supporting female athletes in motorsport and is taking it a step further with the Driver of the Day award being assigned every race with votes from the public.
At the Spanish Grand Prix – third round of the W Series season – Abbi Pulling became the recipient of the first ever award, winning the 26% of the public’s votes after claiming second place at Circuit de Montmelo.
The 19 year-old Brit – who is also part of the Alpine Affiliate programme – managed to leapfrog her coach and mentor Alice Powell at the race start and kept the pressure throughout the 30-minute race on championship leader and two-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick, as she targeted her first ever win in the series.
Tyre management played a big role in Barcelona and, albeit Pulling remained all race within the one second gap to Chadwick, she couldn't ultimately make a pass as none of the leading trio made a mistake.
On the notoriously difficult track to pass, though, Pulling equalled her best ever result in W Series, after her second place of the 2021 season finale at COTA.
At this year's opener at Miami, Pulling managed to finish fourth and sixth despite difficult qualifying sessions – and made the most out of the chaotic final laps to score important points despite an overall difficult weekend. At Barcelona, she returned in contention for the podium and victory – as most would have expected ahead of the 2022 season – and was awarded by the W Series audience for her solid race.
"I'm proud of myself after bouncing back from Miami and a bit of a poor qualifying. I started on the front foot here and big thanks to my team" – said Pulling on Saturday.
"I had good pace, couldn't quite get Jamie [Chadwick] but it's still a good result for me. I was right behind her on the last lap, and I know what I need to do in the next races to move forward again."
Pulling topped the Hankook Driver of the Day award beating Chadwick by 8% of the votes, as the race winner – who conquered the last 5 W Series races – received 18% of the votes.
Rookie Bianca Bustamante was third with 15%, just ahead of Spaniard Nerea Marti (11%), who was the biggest mover of the race, gaining three positions after a challenging Friday.
Juju Noda received 10% of the votes – the young Japanese being the best placed rookie with a solid weekend that showed a good step forward from Miami.
Home heroes Marta Garcia and Belén Garcia received respectively 5 and 3 percent of the votes; the CortDAO racer had her best finish of the year after the disappointing penalty in the first round, while Belén – who's living a few kms away from the track – was once again in the points after a strong Friday.
Fabienne Wohlwend, Beitske Visser, Bruna Tomaselli and Sarah Moore all received 1% of the votes – with the latter being the only driver to complete an overtaking move after the first lap, which ultimately gave her an important point.
Voting was open as the race went green to 4pm local - approximately 45 minutes after the chequered flag. “Driver of the Day” was first awarded in F1 in 2016 – and quickly became a popular accolade among fans and drivers alike.
The next W Series round will be in 40 days' time at Silverstone, for the British GP.