"I think I definitely made a step forward" - Chloe Grant on first F1 Academy top-5
Updated: May 15
At Valencia, Scottish young talent Chloe Grant scored her first ever top-5 in F1 Academy - and equalled her best result in single seaters, having shown very strong pace throughout the weekend.
Chloe Chong and Chloe Grant are the two youngest drivers on the grid of the inaugural F1 Academy season; both were among the finalists in last year's Girls On Track - Rising Stars programme and stepped up to the F1-promoted all-female championship. 16 and 17 respectively, both drivers are among the most interesting prospects of the series, having shown very encouraging progression throughout the first two race weekends. While Grant is not at her first season in race cars – she competed in the GB4 Championship last year, also improving dramatically towards the end of the season – she is certainly one of the least experienced of the field, having to learn the new gen Tatuus F4 car as well as all the racetracks on the F1 Academy calendar. Grant is in fact at her first ever racing campaign outside of the UK. Despite these challenges, Grant had a positive debut in Austria, where she gained lots of knowledge and scored two top-10 finishes – a streak only interrupted by a transmission issue that took her out of contention after the first lap of race 2. Having run as high as fifth in race 3, Grant took the chequered flag in ninth place, showing good racecraft in the very competitive midfield, with clear potential to join the top five. With ART Grand Prix tackling its first ever season with F4 machinery, the opening round at Spielberg was about learning – for both team and drivers. But coming into Valencia just a few days later, Grant was confident to make a further step forward. "It's a big learning curve but I was generally happy with my pace", she said after the season opener. “It was good to experience the car in both wet and dry conditions - which again I can put to good effect at future events during the season.” And at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, second round of the brand-new series, Grant lived up to expectations, with significant progress both in qualifying and in race pace. The Scottish driver was one of the cleanest drivers in Friday's qualifying - when an avalanche of track limit penalties shuffled the grids: Grant qualified third in Q1 – in an highly impressive performance - and sixth in race 2, with realistic chances for a top five in all races. Chloe had a really solid first race, where she battled with Amna Al Qubaisi and Léna Bühler, always comfortably in the group of the front-runners. The pace of the top five drivers was in fact quite unreachable for the others and, after a track limit penalty for Amna Al Qubaisi, Chloe Grant claimed a remarkable fourth place finish – which equals her best ever result in single seaters from last year's Brands Hatch round in GB4. From sixth on the reverse grid of race 2, Grant kept fighting in the positions just below the top five – especially in a wheel to wheel due with Jessica Edgar and a recovering Lola Lovinfosse. Chloe would finish ahead of both, bagging some more important points with a seventh place in the 20-minute race. Again from the third row of the grid in race 3 on Sunday, Grant had a way better start off the line and made up positions. After a few close battles in the early stages with Jessica Edgar and Lola Lovinfosse, Grant settled in fifth place, eventually taking the chequered flag once again in the top-5. She would then receive a series of post-race penalties for a few contacts that demoted the Scottish racer to P11, just outside the points-scoring position. "I feel it was a good weekend, we had good results - obviously unfortunately I had the penalty in the last race", she summed up after the second race meeting. "Race 1 was good, P4. In race 2 I got P7. I learned a lot this weekend, mainly about the starts. The first few laps are very important in terms of where you're going to finish", she explained. "[In race 3] I crossed the line in P5 but got penalized. Nevertheless, it was a good weekend for the team and good for me – I just have to be cautious of the track limits and focus on Barcelona and see whether I can have another really good qualifying and get good results again." With 14 points gained at Valencia – and almost two top-5s – Chloe Grant was one of the drivers that probably improved the most over the two back-to-back rounds. "I think I definitely made a step forward", Chloe told us. "I think for all of us it was mainly learning at the first round - but especially for me, I definitely learnt a lot from round 1, driving-wise. What I learnt here was more about starts. I haven't been pushing hard enough at the starts, but in race 3 I did that and it turned out well." After six races, Grant sits ninth in the championship standings, having progressed from 14th in the previous round - highlighting how there is clearly potential to extract and capitalize on in the coming rounds.