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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

F1 Academy: Léna Bühler fastest in FP2 at Paul Ricard

Back in the championship hunt after a superbly consistent season, Léna Bühler was fastest in the second practice session at Circuit Paul Ricard, leading Abbi Pulling by 0.045 of a second.

Photo credits: Racers - Behind the Helmet

Léna Bühler took to the top of the timing sheets in F1 Academy's second practice session, in a 40 minute where tyre saving played a crucial role.

Bühler had lost some track time in the morning session due to a 10 minute penalty after ART GP sent out its cars for the installation lap on wet tyres. With the three drivers stationary in pit lane for the penalty, the French did not use its first set of new tyres until FP2, where Bühler was able to make the most out of the new rubber and snatched the top spot in the final minutes, displacing Abbi Pulling.

Mercantile Campos Racing’s Nerea Marti had topped the first session by beating Abbi Pulling in the closing minutes – and resumed the second session again by leading the pack in the early stages. She was the first driver to go under the 1:28 mark and then improved three times in a row keeping the fastest reference.

Pulling, though, soon came back with a 1:27.518, before she could improve by two further tenths. Championship leader Marta Garcia seems on top form as well, as she posted a 1:27.226 which gained her the provisional first place – but, with a stronger first sector, Pulling went a further tenth down.

Meanwhile, all three Prema drivers had already pulled into the garage, likely in a tyre saving strategy, and would not venture out again.

Pulling was able to gain yet another tenth in the first sector, but then set an identical lap time to her previous benchmark.

Just like in FP1, Léna Bühler had notable sector times but had not put them all together until with 10 minutes to go, when she recorded a 1:27.092 that became the fastest time of the session, albeit a few thousands adrift Nerea Marti’s FP1 time.

The whole grid was again incredibly close, as the shorter Paul Ricard track layout is expected to provide close racing. Buhler led Abbi Pulling by 0.045 of a second – the latter less than a tenth ahead of Marta Garcia.

Campos Racing drivers had highly positive sessions, as home racer Lola Lovinfosse finished fifth fastest. Maite Caceres spent most of the session in fourth place, before slightly slipping down the order in the closing minutes. She continuously improved her times and was ninth at the end, in a hugely promising performance.

Jessica Edgar confirmed her sixth place finish throughout both sessions, ahead of Carrie Schreiner and Amna Al QUbaisi, all separated by the smallest margins. Amna was fourth in the morning session, just ahead of her sister Hamda – who finished tenth in FP2 having not used the new tyre.

Megan Gilkes and Chloe Grant were just outside the top 10; Bianca Bustamante and Chloe Chong also had minimal running due to tyre strategy, confident of the work done last week in the pre-event test. Emely de Heus closed the field, with all 15 drivers in a second gap.

Both sessions were incident-free. Qualifying is now scheduled at 16:00 local time – with the first 15 minute session setting the grid for Race 1 and for the reverse-grid race 2. At 16:25, Q2 will then shape the starting order of the third race – all contested on Sunday.



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