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FWS: F1 Academy drivers collect valuable mileage, Carrie Schreiner tops Female Trophy

Among the 39 entries that made up the grid of the opening Formula Winter Series round in Jerez, three F1 Academy drivers collected valuable mileage in preparation for their campaigns. Carrie Schreiner's solidity paid off as she emerged on top of the Female Trophy classification in two out of three races, having gained 12 places over the weekend. Bianca Bustamante was unlucky in race 1 but fought back and made her way up in a brilliant race 2; Lia Block made her formula debut and completed every racing lap, keeping it clean in tricky weather conditions.

Carrie Schreiner, Campos Racing, Formula Winter Series, Jerez 2024
Photo credits: Niels Broekema/Dutch Photo Agency

One year after the launch of Formula Winter Series, the Gedlich-promoted championship returned to Jerez de la Frontera, where it hosted its first ever race.

The series - which offers a European-based platform for F4 competitions in winter - worked on a partnership with F4 Spain that resulted in one of the biggest grids to date: 39 cars entered the first round of the season, in a highly competitive environment that featured some of Europe's top teams.

In 2023, the first ever weekend of Formula Winter Series saw the race car debut of young female talent Tina Hausmann who eventually went on to finish on the podium. While the size of the grid is today unparalleled, the 2024 Formula Winter Series will continue to feature exceptional female talent as F1 Academy drivers Carrie Schreiner, Bianca Bustamante and Lia Block opted for the Spanish-based series to prepare for their main program of the year - the F1-promoted all female series.

Schreiner is no stranger to this paddock, having also taken part in GT Winter Series rounds in the past. After making her single seater return in 2023, the German re-adapted quickly and became a race winner at Zandvoort. With F1 teams now directly involved in the 2024 F1 Academy season, Carrie has been enrolled in the Sauber Academy development program and will represent the Swiss team in a Campos Racing seat. In preparation, Schreiner has already contested the first two rounds of F4 UAE, before returning to Europe for the first three rounds of Formula Winter Series, in a Campos entry,

Similarly, Bianca Bustamante - who will represent McLaren in F1 Academy and has joined the British team's young driver programme - has joined GRS Team for the first three rounds, having previously tested with the Spanish outfit at Jerez, Aragon and Valencia.

Bustamante, a double race winner in last year's F1 Academy, aims to carry momentum after moving to ART Grand Prix for her second season in the all-female series.

Bianca Bustamante, GRS Team, Formula Winter Series, Jerez 2024
Photo credits: Daniel Bürgin

Bianca was joined at GRS Team by young Lia Block - who made at Jerez her very first start in formula cars. The 17 year old American is a title winner off-road racer, but has only recently switched to single seaters and will be taking on the F1 Academy season in the Williams Racing seat. Despite some testing mileage under her belt, Block's season will be one of learning and definitely her first F4 races in FWS go in this direction: Lia's target will be logging laps, complete race distances and hone her skills in the wheel to wheel battles of the busy grids.

From testing on Thursday and for most of the weekend, though, drivers had to face an extra challenge: weather conditions. Rain hampered the majority of the sessions and the conditions were similar on Saturday, when the first qualifying session went underway in the morning. Andrés Cárdenas (Campos Racing) took pole position, a little over two tenths ahead of MP motorsport's Griffin Peebles and Maciej Gladysz.

Carrie Schreiner qualified 25th, with a 1:47.570 lap that put her a tenth ahead of Bianca Bustamante, in P27. It was the very first visit for the Filipina driver at the Jerez racetrack and, despite the tricky conditions changing every session, she had managed to make improvements ahead of the first race of the weekend.

Lia Block's first ever qualifying saw the American lining up in P36.

Lia Block, GRS Team, Formula Winter Series, Jerez 2024
Photo credits: Daniel Bürgin
Race 1

In a rather hectic first lap, Carrie Schreiner was the protagonist of a stellar getaway and made up seven places at the start, moving up from 25th to 18th in a matter of a few corners. Bustamante also had a great launch and was already up to P22, although contact in the opening stages resulted in an early trip to the pits for a new wing that took the Filipina star out of contention.

Block was able to avoid the chaos and gained six places, moving up into the top-30.

Ahead, Peebles had a fast getaway and took the lead, although Cárdenas fought back and reclaimed his position on the following lap with a clean move at the hairpin.

At the end of the first few laps, Schreiner had settled in P16 - in an outstanding run that also translated into competitive pace throughout the race. Schreiner hunted down Flavio Olivieri and ran consistently in the mid-pack.

With no safety cars, Bustamante's early pitstop gave her little chances to catch back with the pack; she initially caught Enea Frey - who had also had a trip to the pit lane - and she passed the Swiss driver starting a comeback, but now had over 20 seconds to close.

Lia Block kept her cool and made up positions as drivers around her made mistakes in the tricky conditions. She gained a position on Fiorentino for P27 on lap 4, before dropping to 30th mid-way through the race. A drive through for Francisco Macedo gained her another position.

With battles all the way through the field, Schreiner tried to find a way past Olivieri - but also had to defend from Lammers, who was ready to seize any opportunity. Positions changed by the minute and Carrie found a gap and passed Tim Gerhards on lap 11 to retain 16th.

Despite the little experience, Block was also holding on well and recovered to P29, chasing Castillo barely a few tenths ahead.

There was no luck for Bustamante, as her car suffered an issue and started to lose power; her work came undone and fell back to P35, having run as high as 32nd.

In the closing stages, Egozi found a way past both Hideg and Schreiner - just before Castillo ended his race in the gravel bringing out the yellow flag with 1 lap to go. The race continued under local yellow and Carrie Schreiner hunted down Douwe Dedecker on the final lap, but she eventually crossed the finish line in P17, in a remarkable recovery that saw the German racer gaining 8 places.

"There are quite a lot of cars out there, but I had a great start and I could gain eight positions in total, so it was quite a good race!" - Carrie commented from the podium, where she collected her Female Trophy victory.

It was a positive first ever F4 race for Lia Block, who took the chequered flag in P29.

Carrie Schreiner, Campos Racing, Formula Winter Series, Jerez 2024
Photo credits: Eric Alonso / Dutch Photo Agency
Race 2

The grid for Sunday morning's race 2 was shaped by the second fastest lap from Q1 and resulted in Carrie Schreiner lining up in P31, ahead of Lia Block in P30 and Bianca Bustamante in P37. The rain had fallen again over the morning and the track required wet weather tyres.

A most bizarre situation before the lights went out with cars out of position required two extra formation laps, but once the race was finally underway on the third attempt, pole-sitter Peebles led the field into turn 1. Carrie Schreiner was off to another encouraging start, but she was then pushed off and had to limp back to the pits to change a tyre.

A stellar start for Bustamante saw the McLaren junior climbing from P37 to P31. The Filipina overtook both Castillo and her teammate Block, before the safety car was deployed on the fourth lap when Fiorentino crashed out and his car had to be retrieved by the marshals. Block, who was following Fiorentino, lost some time but eventually kept up with the pack.

The safety car was good news also for Schreiner, as the Campos driver could close the gap and attempt a charge from the back. The green flag waved on lap 6 and Carrie overtook both Berreby and Dobrzanski, moving up to 34th.

Bustamante was also making up ground and climbed to P28 once Lucas Fluxa dropped down the order.

Suddenly the rain worsened and several drivers spun and went out; the safety car picked up the leader once again, as Peebles and Cárdenas had tried to pull away. Racing resumed on lap 11 - and Schreiner overtook Block for P32 - after the latter had lost a few places just before the safety car. The rain hit harder and Schreiner made her experience count: one lap later, she was already up to P29.

Bustamante was also driving with the utmost precision as more drivers made mistakes; on the final lap, she could snatch 26th place and completed the second race having gained 11 spots. It was a good charge for Schreiner as well, who finished P29 after pitting on lap 1 and managed to complete several overtakes despite the limited green flag running.

Lia Block took the chequered flag in P31, having kept in on track in challenging conditions.

Bianca Bustamante, GRS Team, Formula Winter Series, Jerez 2024
Photo credits: Daniel Bürgin
Race 3

Rain did not stop throughout the afternoon and the third and final contest of the day started behind the safety car as the visibility was limited by the most recent shower. On Sunday morning, the second qualifying session had handed pole position to Juan Cota (Drivex), who preceded Matheus Ferreira and Ernesto Rivera in damp conditions. Carrie Schreiner was once again the top of the female racers: she would line up in P27, one row ahead of Bianca Bustamante in P29 and Lia Block in P33.

At the green flag on lap 2, Cota pulled away - making the most of the battle for second between Ferreira, Cárdenas and Rivera, as Peebles had dropped to fifth.

It was a cleaner restart further down the order; Schreiner, Bustamante and Block held their own and kept position in a very compact field and with very little traction.

On lap 4, Block lost a position after a scrap with Savinkov - who eventually retired. She unfortunately had to pay a visit to the pits for a new front wing and lost touch with the pack.

Bustamante fought elbows out with Lenny Ried; while the Monlau Competition driver initially seemed to have the upper hand, Bianca fought back, reclaiming P30.

Meanwhile, Schreiner picked up one position on Bart Harrison - who had lost his rear wing in the fierce battles - but she retained P27 as Dorison sneaked through. Harrison's damage cost him more places and Bustamante also advanced to P29. While positions settled in the second half of the race, racing was tense as every little mistake could cost many positions. A spin for Enea Frey gained both Schreiner and Bustamante a further position with two minutes to go and, a last lap overtake on Olivieri allowed the Sauber junior driver to cross the line in P25, once again bringing home the Female Trophy honours.

In a clean race 3, Carrie Schreiner's solidity was on display and she completed an overall positive weekend with 12 positions gained over the weekend.

Her limited experience of the Jerez track and the changing weather limited Bianca Bustamante's chances - including the technical issue on Saturday - but the Filipina fought her way up with determination.

"After the issue yesterday we had to start at the back", she commented. "But we made our way up during the wet race, stayed calm and consistent. Still learning from the tricky conditions, as well as gaining confidence in low grip", she continued. "Mega thanks to the team for the hard work."

In a safety car-free race, Lia Block had little chances to recover, but the young American still came home having completed all the racing laps in her formula debut, ready to continue her learning journey in a week's time at Circuito Ricardo Tormo, Valencia. 

Carrie Schreiner, Campos Racing, Formula Winter Series, Jerez 2024
Photo credits: Eric Alonso / Dutch Photo Agency



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