Bia Martins - behind the helmet, and behind the scenes
We spoke with one of the up-and-coming women who are competing on the Brazilian motorsport scene - Bia Martins. A bright and versatile young woman, you'll discover the driver behind the helmet, as well as the performance coach behind the scenes.
Recently, a new touring car series started its activities on Brazilian racetracks in 2023 - the HRacing Cup, and the female presence in its debut season was established with Bia Martins at the wheel of the Hyundai HB20 #555. Ana Beatriz Martins - or simply, Bia, is part of a new generation of a racing family. The passion for motorsport, which started with her grandfather and continued with her father, now continues through Bia and her brothers.
The 23-year-old driver had her first contact with motorsport at the age of 9, following her father in championships in Paraíba - her region of origin - and in other states in the Northeast of Brazil. However, she had to put the sport aside for a few years. In 2017, she returned to the tracks participating in national kart competitions, where she gained notoriety through the good results achieved.
Among some notable moments in her career, Bia Martins was runner-up for three consecutive seasons between 2017 and 2019 in the Paraíba Kart Championship. Her good performance earned her invitations to drive in new categories in the following years, including a participation in a Formula 1600 round at Interlagos Circuit in 2020 and also in the 7th round of the Shell HB20 Cup 2021 - which would become her first contact with the touring car model she currently drives in the HRacing Cup.
In 2022, Bia Martins continued in the national karting scene and joined the FIA Girls On Track team, alongside Antonella Bassani, Cecília Rabelo, Gabriela Mesa and Thaline Chicoski, in the 2022 Brazilian Endurance Kart Championship. The all-female team finished 8th overall.
In the same year, she also achieved a podium in the first round of the Brazil Kart Cup, with a P4 and was the only woman on the grid in the Rookies class. Now, she experiences a new chapter in her career, competing in a touring car series.
After moving from her hometown, João Pessoa, to São Paulo in search for new opportunities in racing, Bia Martins was rewarded with a place in a recently launched national series, the HRacing Cup - based exactly on the same Hyundai HB20 machine that she had driven two years earlier. In the two rounds already held in April and June - both at Interlagos - Bia had the opportunity to develop and adapt to the car.
Despite the difficulties faced so far, she has been proving her talent and ability to overcome challenges. In the opening round, she finished both races in the top 10 among Rookies, and in the most recent one, she was the protagonist of a remarkable recovery during one of the races, crossing the finish line in 15th place, after starting in 29th out of 31 cars on the grid. She is currently in 7th place in the drivers' standings in the Rookies P1 class, with 27 points collected in the four races held so far.
"I'm a person who likes challenges, so what's new usually doesn't scare me, it motivates me to be better."
In March of this year, Bia Martins had the opportunity to participate in the FIA Girls On Track activities during the Formula E São Paulo e-Prix and shared some of her knowledge about the physical preparation of drivers with about 100 young girls. She was also present at the first ever edition of the event promoted by the FIA dedicated to women held in Brazil, during the Formula 1 São Paulo GP, in 2022.
With so many stories experienced on the tracks, Bia Martins also works behind the scenes. Graduated in Medicine in 2021, she works on her own project - PilotUp - helping other drivers from different categories in their physical and mental preparation for their respective races. Among them are experienced names in Brazilian motorsport such as Bia Figueiredo and Beto Monteiro - who compete in the Brazilian Copa Truck, as well as a young talent on the rise - Rafaela Ferreira, who is on the grid of the Brazilian F4 in 2023.
Bia Martins saw that there were many areas of action in motorsport in addition to being a racing driver. Mechanics, team leaders, media professionals, commercial managers, among many other roles necessary for all the work developed by the team to be carried out. And this creates several opportunities for those who love the sport and dream of being involved in a professional role.
"I decided to study Physical Education and work with the preparation of drivers because I needed a 'plan B' to continue working within motorsport, in case something went wrong on my path as a racing driver." - explained Bia Martins, who chose the discipline in which she graduated, having her brother as inspiration.
However, she has always focused on helping other drivers, after realizing through her own experience behind the scenes of national categories that there was a lack of attention to issues of physical and the mental preparation of athletes.
"I knew that it was an area little explored and that it needed some attention. So I combined my life experience in sport with my academic experience and I'm here today."
She also strongly believes in the importance of taking due care of the psychological and mental side in the process of preparing athletes - not just in motorsport, but in all that are considered high-performance sports. For her, having a well-prepared mind is an essential factor in achieving good results:
"I usually say that the psychological part in motorsport counts even more than the physical. You can even be well prepared physically with training, but if you have a weak mind, you won't finish a race."
We spoke with Bia Martins and she told us a little more about the special moments of her racing career and also about her work outside the racetrack as a performance coach.
RACERS: What were the most important moments in your trajectory so far, both as a racing driver and as a performance coach?
BIA: "I usually say that everything that happens in my career is a divine thing. Nothing has much explanation or human logic. If I were to think about it, I wouldn't be where I am today. So, I think that every moment I spend on the track was very important for me. Making my debut in Formula 1600, racing in the Shell HB20 Cup... All of that was the hand of God."
"As a performance coach, I've been working for a short time and the first competition I worked in after graduating was a Brazilian Kart Championship. I had drivers in both phases and I usually say that I went 'from heaven to hell', because in the first week I had a driver accompanied by me being champion, and it was very good to start that way! But in the second week I had a driver who was considered the favorite and who in the final race had a kart breakdown, so that was heartbreaking for me."
"I get emotionally involved as if it were me out there on the track, because our work is a lot and together. I know how hard we work off the track and how important it is for the driver."
"Bia Figueiredo's last victory in the Copa Truck was also very emotional. She is already used to doing this and being a pioneer in many things and has made history once again. Being alongside, as a team, was very special!"
"We started working together this year, but we've already been through a rollercoaster, where in the same weekend we took pole position and the next day the truck turned off... So we really needed that win and that was very special for me."
R: What is the main feeling that comes when you are behind the wheel, racing?
B: "Translating, it would be that feeling of being in love, your heart races, it gives you 'butterflies in your stomach'... of course, before the start."
"Because once the race starts, the feeling of adrenaline is very high. So, if I could put it into words that would be it, but describing it in reality, just driving."
R: When a problem or adversity arises during a race, what is your reaction or thought? How do you find motivation?
B: "This is something that my work also helps me a lot. Because the things I say to my drivers I have to say to myself too, so if I'm their mirror, I have to act in the same way."
"One thing I say is that we can never give up. The race, first we have to finish it, and it only really ends after the checkered flag. This is the first part. And then there's parc fermé - after the weighing, inspections... So, it's not because something went wrong that we have to give up."
"Maybe if some adversity happened and you ended up last, you'll look to improve your own time, learn more about the track, use that as training. I always try to see the 'glass half full', never half empty."
R: How is the atmosphere behind the scenes of the races, the relationship with the drivers during the preparation work and the activities that are not usually visible to the general public?
B: "They're pretty hectic. A lot of people can't even imagine. In the preparation work, I try to make everything as light as possible for the driver. By itself, it's naturally an environment with a lot of pressure, as a result, having to show good performance to the sponsor, we charge ourselves a lot. So I always try to do warm-up work in a lighter way, with some play, so that I can prepare them but at the same time do it in a light and relaxed way."
R: As you've said on other occasions, the main objective of this season in the HRacing Cup is to adapt to the touring car and gain experience in this type of racing. If possibilities arise, would you like to compete more seasons in HRacing Cup or in other series?
B: "So, the ultimate goal would be to reach the Stock Car Pro Series, thinking about a national scenario, and to get there I would need to progress. So having other opportunities, of course I would accept joining other series."
"I usually say that I'm a person who likes challenges, so what's new usually doesn't scare me, it motivates me to be better."
"I always try to do my best and see how I arrived at the beginning of the year and how I'm leaving at the end. I think our life is this constant evolution."
Next weekend - from 28th and 30th July - Bia Martins will return to the Interlagos Circuit to tackle the third round of the HRacing Cup.
At the same time, she continues to carry out her work behind the scenes as a performance coach, even from a distance - since Bia Figueiredo will also be in action in Copa Truck, at the Ayrton Senna Circuit, in Goiânia.
Special thanks to Bia Martins for her availability and our best wishes for success in all her projects - on and off the tracks.