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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Léna Bühler gains positions on FRECA return

Updated: May 15

F1 Academy vice-champion Léna Bühler graduated to Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine and gained six places over the first race at Hockenheim; after another superb start in race 2, she had already gained 9 places when she was involved in an unfortunate contact.

Léna Bühler, ART Grand Prix, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, 2024 Hockenheim
Photo credits: Dutch Photo Agency / Diederik van der Laan

Léna Bühler made her return to Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine after graduating from F1 Academy as the inaugural season Vice-Champion, making a first encouraging outing in the series at the season opener at Hockenheim.

Representing the Sauber Academy for a second season, Bühler joined ART Grand Prix after F1 Academy announced a plan to facilitate the series top three to step up to Formula Regional. Bühler therefore returned to the series where she had competed in 2021 and in a partial 2022 season - this time with more experience under her belt.

Léna had in fact a remarkable season in F1 Academy, collecting 13 podiums, two victories, two pole positions and a fastest lap. The Swiss driver was one of the most consistent throughout the year and took her first ever win in single seaters, as well as a six-race streak of uninterrupted podiums. Returning to Formula Regional machinery, Bühler will be aiming to readapt and improve throughout the season.

The Swiss racer improved steadily through the first weekend at Hockenheim, starting from a positive first practice where she closed in on a top-20: Léna set a 1:37.467 which put the bright green ART GP #14 Tatuus T318 in P25. She would then improve by two tenths in the second session, maintaining the gap to the top to around 1.5 seconds - in a strong 33 car field that features some of the mots highly-ranked junior drivers in single seaters.

"Feeling good with the pace, but ready to push even harder for tomorrow’s qualifying and the first race", she commented on Friday.

Bühler the entered the first qualifying of the year with a 1:37.053 in Group B, again improving on her personal best of the weekend. She was P16 in her group - and would line up from P32 in Saturday's race.

Léna had a very strong start and gained four positions off the line; she survived a first hectic lap and eventually settled in P29, just behind Marta Garcia. Both ran on the same pace in the opening stages, then a small issue for Bühler dropped down the order and she would have to charge back from P31.

She gained one position when Evan Giltaire hit trouble and positions settled down with 20 minutes to go. With good pace, Bühler caught Bhirombhakdi and tried to find a way past, when the safety car halted the action on lap 9, when Teophile Nael got stuck in the gravel.

The race resumed with 8 minutes to go and Bühler had another good restart, moving up to 27th after leapfrogging Bhirombhakdi. She soon made another move stick and was got past Costa Toparis, and faster of the cars ahead, she aimed to build momentum.

After running some very good laps at the end of the race, the Swiss driver ultimately crossed the finish line in P26, making up 6 places in her return to FRECA.

Léna Bühler, ART Grand Prix, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, 2024 Hockenheim
Photo credits: Dutch Photo Agency / Erwin Huizing

In yet another extremely close qualifying on Sunday morning, Léna ran her first lap under the 1m37 and was 15th fastest in her group. With group A marginally faster, she would line up in P30 for race 2 later in the afternoon.

Bühler had another sterling start and avoided mayhem on the first lap, making great moves over the first lap that saw the Sauber Academy driver slotting into P24, having gained six positions in one lap.

Pole sitter James Wharton hit trouble and eventually retired, hadning the top spot to ART Grand Prix's Evan Giltaire; Egdar Pierre was off in the gravel and eventually triggered the safety car at the end of an action-packed start.

At the restart, Bühler was on a mission and, already up to P21, she was determined to fight for the top-20, when unfortunately she got involved in a multi-car contact at the hairpin and she had no opportunity to avoid the cars ahead and had to retire with front suspension damage.

While her race ended prematurely on lap 7, Léna was again the protagonist of a brilliant getaway and was on course to gain more positions in race 2, which is source of encouragement for the remainder of the season.

"What an eventful meeting!" - Bühler wrote. "I've learned a lot and I had a good progression throughout the weekend. Still a lot of things to learn."

"Qualifying are very close and the races was hectic, I had both good start some mistakes during the race 1 and 2 the paces was good but unfortunately which ends with a contact that I cannot avoid."

Bühler will be aiming to continue her progress at the second round of the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine season at Spa Francorchamps, on May 25-26.



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