Lola Lovinfosse stars in "rollercoaster weekend" in Barcelona
Lola Lovinfosse was one of the stars of the third round of the F1 Academy season in Barcelona: after a mechanical issue in qualifying that left her at the back of the grid, the 17 year old Frenchwoman gained 18 positions across the weekend and scored her second top-5 finish of the season, highlighting good steps forward.
Already a podium finisher in the inaugural weekend of the new F1 Academy championship, 17 year old Lola Lovinfosse was one of the drivers of the weekend at Barcelona, with spectacular recovery drives in the three races following troubled qualifyings.
A third place finish at Spielberg's second race had already proven that the young Frenchwoman had the pace to battle at the front, but a series of misfortunes hampered her weekend at Valencia, where she scored points in two out of three races, but her results were not representative of the actual step forward that Lovinfosse had made.
Having graduated from Spanish Formula 4, Lovinfosse soon showed promising pace in the new gen Tatuus F4 car, which she had driven in the first half of last year's Spanish series, before hitting budget issues. Lovinfosse, though, worked behind the scenes to return in the driving seat and, by the end of the season, she contested the Indian Racing League – which gave her the chance to battle for podiums and improve her racecraft.
A one-off appearance in the Formula Winter Series in Barcelona – in the new F4 car with Campos Racing – was proper preparation for her F1 Academy debut: on the new Montmelo track layout, Lola had great battles and offered a glimpse of her pace at the Spanish circuit.
While her Austrian weekend in F1 Academy brought the first podium, Lovinfosse actually had a stronger Valencian round than results might show; in a superb third race, Lola was set to claim a top-five, having passed several drivers with bold moves on a notoriously difficult track to pass on. A late spin through the gravel while she was about to overtake for fifth eventually ended her race, but Lovinfosse had displayed significant progress.
The positive trend continued into Barcelona, where the driver of the #2 Campos Racing Tatuus set the seventh and fifth fastest times in the two practice sessions. Coming into the two 15 minute qualifyings with high hopes, Lovinfosse's expectations were cut short by a technical issue which left the Campos car stationary in pit lane for most of the session. Having failed to set a lap time, Lola would start from the back of the grid in both Race 1 and Race 2 – on another track where passing opportunities are not abundant.
The young French driver, though, never gave up and once again showcased speed and overtaking skills, ultimately recovering seven positions to score an important eighth place finish and 4 valuable points.
Her charge continued in Race 2, where Lola again had to start from the very tail end of the pack. By gaining six more positions in the 20 minute reverse-grid race, Lovinfosse was back in the top 10, albeit her ninth place finish did not award her points due to the scoring system that only awards the top-8 in the shorter race.
Her pace though, was enough to keep her hopes high for Sunday's race 3, which would see Lovinfosse starting from tenth on the grid, having completed a few timed laps in Q2.
Lola turned out to be one of the stars of the final race of the weekend, with another outstanding recovery in a race that offered less position changes than usual.
While positions settled after the first laps, the Campos driver navigated through the field: she leapfrogged Bianca Bustamante at the start, then hunted down her teammate Nerea Marti – still struggling with technical issues. Lovinfosse made a great pass on Marti and, one lap later, she cleared Gilkes at Turn 1. It didn't take long for Lola to catch the two MP Motorsport's cars of Emely de Heus and Amna Al Qubaisi – who had respectively won race 1 and race 2. After a great duel, Lovinfosse made a move stick on de Heus for sixth place – and was then promoted to fifth once Al Qubaisi received a 5 second penalty for track limits.
With a brilliant recovery, Lovinfosse scored her second top five finish of the season – in what was possibly her best race in Formula 4 machinery.
“It was a rollercoaster of a weekend for me" – Lola commented, recapping her Barcelona round. "Unfortunately I couldn’t take part in Q1 because of a mechanical problem, but we had good recoveries in the three races."
"In race 3 we had a P5 and I’m really happy about it", she continued. "In every race the pace was really good – and the teamwork as well. I’m really happy – now we’re already focusing on Zandvoort, but in general I’m happy about this weekend."
"There were a lot of overtakes, a lot of fighting and good points to take away – so I think it was one of the best races so far", she stated, when asked if she felt that Barcelona's third race was her strongest performance to date.
"I’m actually progressing a lot every weekend. I’d say that you learn a lot of new things from each track and in each situation – and I think that this weekend I learned a lot also personally and on track.”
Lola scored 14 points in Barcelona and now sits 10th in the championship standings.
With now one month before the next round at Zandvoort – a track where she has never raced before – the 17-year-old driver will now be focusing on her sim work as well as the upcoming collective test at Aragon, as she will aim to break in the top five with more consistency and return to the rostrum.