Bianca Bustamante claimed her second victory in F1 Academy with a spectacular race 3 in Monza, as the Filipina passed Abbi Pulling to climb the top step of the podium at her favourite circuit.
Filipino star Bianca Bustamante clinched her second victory in F1 Academy at Monza, after another brilliant race at the Temple of Speed that saw plenty of close racing and battles across the field.
Bustamante returned to the top step of the podium after race 2 in Valencia, and collected her first feature race win after passing pole sitter Abbi Pulling.
Pulling had set the fastest lap in Q2, one tenth better than Bustamante after a closely fought qualifying on Saturday morning – after she had missed out on pole in Q1 due to traffic in the second sector. After missing the podium at photo finish in race 1, Pulling was third in race three and aimed higher in the final race of the weekend.
But she had to beat Bustamante and Hamda Al Qubaisi, third on the grid and starting alongside Megan Gilkes.
At the start, Pulling covered the inside from Bustamante, who had a great run towards the first chicane. Emely De Heus went around from the back of the pack and was luckily avoided by all the drivers, albeit a few had to cut through the run off. Marta Garcia was passed off the line by Amna Al Qubaisi, whose great start gained her fourth place just behind her sister Hamda. A close battle for tenth saw Maite Caceres attacking Jessica Edgar.
Pulling, Bustamante and Hamda Al Qubaisi pulled away, while a multi-car battle just behind meant that Nerea Martí moved up to fifth, passing Megan Gilkes and Carrie Schreiner. Championship leader Marta García had an off at Parabolica after coming together with Léna Bühler and dropped to 12th place – as Bühler also fell down the order.
Bustamante’s straight line speed forced Pulling to try to break the tow on the straights – with Hamda Al Qubaisi ready to pick up the pieces.
Bühler meanwhile was charging back and passed Edgar for eighth place – the latter running wide at Parabolica on lap 5 and losing out to Lovinfosse as well.
Pulling, though, was missing straight line speed and was mostly driving defensively; on lap 6 Bustamante eventually made a brilliant move stick around the outside of Biassono to clear Pulling at La Roggia. Hamda went alongside Pulling on the following lap and tried to attack Bustamante as well at the first chicane. The Emirati unfortunately outbraked herself and hit Bustamante, who could continue without damages. With suspension damage, Hamda was out of the race and her sister Amna was therefore up to third, not far behind the leading duo.
Bühler continued her recovery and passed Gilkes, then hunted down her ART GP teammate Schreiner. Gilkes went off at Lesmo 2 after being tagged by Lola Lovinfosse and brought out the safety car on lap 8.
The race resumed on lap 11; Bustamante held position but Nerea Martí had the best restart and passed Amna Al Qubaisi for third, who then went straight at the first chicane. While she gave the position back, she could reclaim third into the second chicane.
Marta Garcia and Léna Bühler were also trading positions and at the same time they closed in on Schreiner; Garcia could make a move stick on the German driver, but Bühler went deep into the first chicane and had to take the escape road, falling down to ninth.
Pulling tried to keep up with Bustamante’s speed, but she struggled to stay close on the straights. Bustamante was able to open a small gap and break the slipstream – just before the safety car was deployed once again for a contact involving Chloe Chong and Maite Caceres; both went off through the gravel but the Uruguayan continued, albeit with damage.
The race ended behind the safety car and Bianca Bustamante collected her second win of the season, preceding Abbi Pulling and Amna Al Qubaisi – who was eyeing her fourth podium of the season but was eventually demoted to fourth for “leaving the track and gaining an advantage” at the second chicane.
With a brilliant race 3, Nerea Martí brought Campos Racing onto the podium – at the Spanish squad’s first race at Monza. Martí has built speed throughout the week and, after the disappointing second race yesterday, returned to the top three for the fourth time this season.
Despite a troubled race, Marta García was fifth and amassed a crucial amount of points for the championship, as the Prema Racing driver capitalized on Hamda Al Qubaisi’s unlucky weekend. Marta also scored the extra point for the fastest lap.
Carrie Schreiner has been highly consistent since the second half of the season and was sixth in race 3 after almost clinching a podium in race 2.
From the last row of the grid, Lola Lovinfosse had another good recovery up to seventh place and was the biggest mover of the race with 7 positions gained.
Jessica Edgar was again in the top ten after a strong weekend and preceded Léna Bühler and Emely de Heus – who drove to the end with a flat rear tyre.
Bühler, though, would receive a 5 second time penalty for causing a contact and was demoted to tenth, swapping places with de Heus.
Maite Caceres made impressive progress throughout the weekend and, just like in Zandvoort, she could score points again with her best result of the season in race 3 – the Uruguayan battled hard in race 3 as well, had good restarts from the safety cars and eventually finished eleventh, just missing out on points.
Chloe Chong was classified in P12, with Megan Gilkes and Hamda Al Qubaisi out of the race.
After 15 races, Marta Garcia now leads the standings by 36 points, after a highly positive weekend for the Valencian.
Hamda Al Qubaisi only scored 4 points across the weekend and will have to fight back at Paul Ricard. With a win and a second place at Monza, Léna Bühler might be back in contention for the title, as she now follows Al Qubaisi by only 5 points.
Martí’s podium means that she remains close to Pulling in the battle for fourth; Bustamante also climbs the classification, passing Amna Al Qubaisi.
Drivers will return to the track on July 18-19 for the pre-event collective testing at Circuit Paul Ricard, one week before the French round.