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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Doriane Pin leads closely-contested F1 Academy FP1 at Miami

Doriane Pin and Abbi Pulling are separated by 70 thousandths of a second after the first practice of the F1 Academy second round in Miami, as track evolution resulted in a closely contested session: Bianca Bustamante follows in third.

Doriane Pin, Prema Racing, F1 Academy, 2024 Miami International Autodrome
Photo courtesy: Prema Racing

56 days went by after the opening round of the 2024 F1 Academy season in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but the top two remained unchanged as cars hit the track at Miami International Autodrome for the first practice session: Doriane Pin and Abbi Pulling traded positions at the top of the leaderboard throughout the 40 minute session that opened the weekend, with times dropping significantly as the track evolved.

It would be the Mercedes junior to have the upper hand in FP1, becoming the first driver to record a lap under the two minute mark. But Abbi Pulling - who won her first race in the series in Jeddah's second race - proved that she won't be an outside observer at the Florida temporary racing venue.

Glorious weather welcomed the drivers for the first on-track action of F1 Academy on American soil, as the all-female series also features an American driver on her home race for the first time: Chloe Chambers - who is one of the few drivers to have raced at Miami before, as part of the W Series 2022 season - is joined by compatriots Lia Block and Courtney Crone, in the fourth Prema car.

Crone - a driver with experience in diverse disciplines of the sport, including LMP3 and Lamborghini Super Trofeo - is in fact the second Wild Card entry and will race with support of QVC. This will make the Miami GP the round with most drivers from the same country on the grid, topping last year's Valencia round with two Spaniards.

This weekend, the weekend format was back to two practice sessions, after the Jeddah round was shortened to one sole practice.

Abbi Pulling, also at Miami for the second time in her career, set the early pace with a 2:02.745 on her first flying lap and improved steadily in the following minutes, although Pin soon moved up at the top of the timing screens, as the Frenchwoman - who dominated the Jeddah season opener - improved by half a second.

Crone was caught crossing the white line at pit exit - a move that was soon under the steward's scrutiny. The very green track at the start of the weekend meant that drivers wrestle their cars to stay on track in the first minutes of the session; Maya Weug improved significantly and was almost matched Prema-teammate Pin, before Amna Al Qubaisi - sporting the new VCARB Miami-special livery - and Jessica Edgar took to the top of the leaderboard. It would be Pin once again to set the new benchmark, as times quickly dropped.

With 28 minutes to go, five cars were covered by one tenth of a second - in an over 5.412 km-long track. Block spun and brought out the first yellow flag of the weekend, but she could quickly rejoin without damage to her Williams-liveried Tatuus.

A driver who has always felt comfortable at street circuits, Abbi Pulling was the first driver to record a time under the 2:01 mark - quickly followed by home racer Chloe Chambers, who set the fastest third sector. Drivers headed to the pits midway through the session for some setup adjustments before everyone was out on track with 15 minutes to go.

Mercedes AMG junior Doriane Pin took off 7 tenths and brought herself up in the top spot again and led Pulling, Chambers Bustamante and Marti with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Also sporting a new livery - with more black than orange - Bianca Bustamante showed good speed and improved her sectors to move up into second place with a particularly strong third sector; the Filipina star was shuffled down to third a few second later, when Abbi Pulling found some time and set the new fastest lap - a 2:00.019 that was close to the first time under the 2 minutes. That record would go to Doriane Pin, who topped her rival by 0.070 of a second.

Maya Weug improved to fifth in the closing stages, but it would be Doriane Pin to pick up where she had left off in Jeddah: the Frenchwoman topped the first session at Miami, at the end of a very tight session that saw 12 cars separated by one second.

Nerea Marti and Maya Weug completed the top five, just ahead of Haas-supported driver Chloe Chambers, sixth fastest after having spent most of the 40 minute session in the top three. Emely de Heus put in a competitive lap in the final minute and slotted into seventh place, preceding Jessica Edgar, Aurelia Nobels and Lia Block - who nevertheless continues to impress on her first single seater season.

Carrie Schreiner also recorded her fastest lap in the very final minutes and climbed the order to eleventh; Amna Al Qubaisi was the first driver over the one second gap in P12; the Emirati had a strong second sector and will be targeting more improvements in the remaining sectors which could see her gaining several positions. Lola Lovinfosse, Tina Hausmann and Hamda Al Qubaisi were barely hundredths of a second behind. Hamda was visibly fighting with the grip of her car towards the end of the session and finished P15, having struggled to get a clean lap. Courtney Crone rounded out the field, although the Californian had a very solid FP1 with minimal gaps despite the limited track time in the Tatuus T421 machine.

The second practice session is scheduled for 15:20 local time.



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