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F1 Academy: Abbi Pulling dominates Barcelona race 1

Abbi Pulling secured her fourth win of the F1 Academy season in a dominant lights-to-flag victory in Barcelona race 1 ahead of Campos drivers Nerea Marti and Chloe Chambers.

Abbi Pulling, Rodin Motorsport, F1 Academy, 2024 Barcelona Spanish GP
Photo credits: James Gasperotti

Having topped the timing screens in all sessions so far at Barcelona including two pole positions on Friday, Rodin Motorsport's Abbi Pulling secured her fourth win of the season with a lights-to-flag victory: she was only under pressure into turn one when Campos teammates Nerea Marti and Chloe Chambers attempted to challenge her.

After a perfectly-managed safety car restart, the first race of the F1 Academy third round was another smooth run for the British driver, who drove away and set the fastest lap in the process, significantly extending her championship lead. This was also aided by her main rival, Doriane Pin, stalling on the grid and having to charge back on a track that is notoriously difficult to pass on. With five races now in the books, the two are separated by 58 points.

Pulling had a good start but had to defend from a quick Nerea Marti, who made up ground from the second row and went side by side with the leader into turn 1. Chambers was also in the battle for the lead and barely avoided her Campos teammate at the direction change of turn 1 and 2, eventually slotting into third.

Second in the championship, Doriane Pin almost stalled off the line and was avoided by the whole field. Bianca Bustamante emerged in fourth place as the Filipina capitalized on Al Qubaisi also having to take evasive action.

A mistake by Maya Weug into turn 5 saw the Ferrari driver sliding on the inside kerb as she attempted to pass Lovinfosse and then understeered into the side of the VCARB-sponsored MP Motorsport car of Amna Al Qubaisi, eliminating both from the race and bringing out the safety car. It was an unfortunate development for Amna Al Qubaisi, who had a really strong start and was already battling mid-pack before being hit.

The race resumed on lap 6 and Pulling had a strong restart, with Marti having to check her mirrors from Chloe Chambers. Emely de Heus completed a clean pass into turn 4 on Tina Hausmann, who had been running in sixth as the top Prema car.

De Heus, who won her first single-seater race in 2023 at Barcelona, was charging up the field and moved up to seventh, while Hausmann had to defend from both Block and Lovinfosse.

Meanwhile, Pin cleared Schreiner and tried to close back in on the top ten after her rocky start. The Mercedes junior put pressure on her compatriot Lovinfosse, but the latter, who had also recovered from an injury, defended well. Pin finally made a move stick around the outside of turn 10 on lap 10.

Pulling, meanwhile, had opened a 2-second gap on Marti, with Chambers and Bustamante not far behind. In sixth place, Jessica Edgar picked up a 5-second penalty for a jump start.

Once in clear air, Pin quickly caught Block and Hausmann: Doriane made a bold move stick under braking into turn 1 to pass the young Williams Academy driver, then put her Prema teammate in her target. Hausmann went slightly wide into turn 3 and gave Pin an opportunity that the Frenchwoman seized to grab ninth on lap 14.

In the closing laps, Bustamante closed in on Chambers, in a thrilling battle for the podium. Chambers, though, was in control and held on to her third place until the chequered flag.

After 16 flawless laps, Abbi Pulling took her fourth win of the season, significantly extending her championship lead.

Home hero Nerea Marti was second, collecting her personal best result of the year to date - improving on a third place claimed in Jeddah. Chambers preceded Bustamante and secured her second podium of the season, following up from race 1 in Miami. The result allowed the American to overtake Maya Weug for third in the championship standings.

With fourth place, Bianca Bustamante is also steadily in the fight for third in the points table, with three drivers now tied on points behind Chambers.

While she wasn't quite in the fight for the podium, Hamda Al Qubaisi had another strong race and crossed the finish line in fifth, clinching her third top five of the season.

The Emirati preceded her MP Motorsport and Red Bull Racing teammate Emely De Heus, who scored her first points of the season with a remarkable run from eleventh on the grid. Circuit de Catalunya proved once again to be friendly ground for the Dutchwoman, who made big progress in the standings by scoring 8 points.

In the final laps, Doriane Pin was the fastest driver on track and, by gaining almost 2 seconds per lap on the cars ahead, she managed to significantly reduce the gap to Edgar, whose penalty therefore dropped her to eighth, just behind Pin.

Tina Hausmann was ninth and managed to hold off Lia Block throughout the first race; they would finish ninth and tenth respectively, both securing valuable points. Block, who accomplished her first top ten finish in the second race in Miami, kept momentum at Barcelona with another P10.

Lola Lovinfosse had good fights in the midfield but ultimately came out just short of a top ten in eleventh. She preceded Carrie Schreiner, who had a great start but later fell down the order. PUMA-sponsored Aurelia Nobels was able to masterfully avoid the collision on lap 1 and then was in the mix for the battles just ahead of her, but eventually rounded out the finishers in P13.

The second and final race of the weekend is scheduled for Sunday morning at 08:50am local time. Abbi Pulling will line up on pole position once again after a dominant qualifying on Friday, but Chloe Chambers will have another chance to improve on her personal best finish as the MoneyGram Haas F1-supported driver will once again share the front row with today's race winner.

Pin proved to be fast once in clear air and, from third, the Mercedes junior might well be back in contention for the win on Sunday. Marti and Hamda Al Qubaisi will aim to move forward once again in what promises to be another thrilling F1 Academy race - potentially in rainy conditions.



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