Marta García: “Those were really good points for the championship”
Despite a difficult start of the weekend, Marta García seized all opportunities in Barcelona and became the first F1 Academy driver to score three podiums in one weekend; outscoring all her rivals, the Spaniard remains the driver with the most wins, most podiums and one of the only two drivers to score points in all races.
Despite a difficult start of the weekend – the second on home soil for the Spanish driver and current championship leader – Marta García managed to come home with the most amount of points than anyone at Circuit de Catalunya, proving that her consistency has become her best asset in the first part of the inaugural F1 Academy championship.
García, 22, had two very strong rounds at Red Bull Ring – where she became the first ever winner in the history of the series – as well as at her home track in Valencia, as she collected one more victory, albeit Hamda Al Qubaisi claiming the most points after her first win of the season.
Coming into the Barcelona weekend, García knew that the Emirati had become her main contender for the title, but still enjoyed a solid point advantage, built with three wins out of the first six races of the season. García was in fact the only driver to win more than one race ahead of the third race meeting.
On Friday, though, García was anything but optimistic, after a difficult start of the weekend that saw the Prema racer slotting in fourth and eighth place, while Al Qubaisi showed dominant pace.
With the exception of Bianca Bustamante – who had a very positive Friday – all Prema cars struggled on the very used tyres. F1 Academy allocates three and a half set of new tyres per weekend, so teams had to strategize when to use the new sets on a high-deg track like Barcelona.
Qualifying also proved to be challenging, as for the first time this season García ended up with no pole positions in either of the two sessions that set the grids for race 1 and race 2: she would have to line up from fifth, fourth and third place in the three races. A worried García initially thought that damage limitation had become her main mission – with overtaking being notoriously difficult at the Catalan racetrack. At the end of an unpredictable Saturday, though, her mood had significantly changed.
“It was a very good weekend actually”, she summed up. “At the beginning I thought it was going to be worse, because in free practice we didn’t have tyres left, so it was not really good changing the mindset from really old tyres to new tyres [in qualifying]. It was a bit difficult in the beginning, so we were P5 and P3 in the two qualifyings”, she explained.
While she didn’t get to show the pace that she had displayed at the previous rounds – mainly due to another older set of tyre for race 1 – Marta held on and fought her way to third place, in an slightly unexpected podium also aided by some gearbox issues hampering front runners Léna Bühler and Hamda Al Qubaisi.
“In the first race, to be fair, we were a bit lucky as well because some of the drivers at the front had problems and we were able to get a P3 – that was good”, Marta told us. “It was a hard race, because some of them had new tyres and I had to keep position. Obviously we got a bit lucky with the two problems [Léna and Hamda] had, but this can happen.”
Al Qubaisi’s retirement was a massive point gain for García, who went into the second race of the weekend – the 20 minute reverse grid race – with a better starting position and high hopes to score more valuable points.
“In the second race I was P2 from P4, which was quite okay as well”, she said. “I had a good start and I was then able to overtake there.”
The driver of the #15 Prema got ahead of Bianca Bustamante and challenged both Nerea Martí and Amda Al Qubaisi for the lead into turn 1, before settling in third. When Nerea Martí was also hit by gearbox troubles, García seized the opportunity to advance into second place, outscoring again her closest championship rival, hit once again by technical hiccups. At the end of the first race day, Marta García had extended her championship lead to 45 points.
On Sunday’s sole race, García had another chance to secure her fourth consecutive podium finish, becoming the first F1 Academy driver to step on the rostrum in all three weekend’s races.
“In race 3, starting from P3, I tried to do my best at the start and in the first lap to see if I could get second or even first, but it’s so difficult to overtake on this track”, Marta recalled. “It was P3 in the end and I’m really happy with three podiums; I think it’s the best weekend in terms of podiums.”
“I know we didn’t win, but those were really good points for the championship, so I’m happy with it”, she continued. “Now we have a break before we go to Zandvoort.”
After three rounds in four weeks, F1 Academy will now have a one month break before heading to Zandvoort, Netherlands – after an in-season test at Motorland Aragon on 13-14 June. Drivers’ training, though, will continue.
“I’m going to go to 321 Perform now for training and after that I will try to chill a bit”, Marta said. “Then we’re off to Motorland for testing and then Zandvoort. But overall it’s been a good weekend.”
“I was in Zandvoort once for W Series – it’s not a track that I love, I had struggled a bit and had some issues, but I’m sure that if we work hard on the sim it’s going to be fine.”
After 9 races, Marta García now sits on top of the championship standings, 41 points clear of Hamda Al Qubaisi and 52 points ahead of Léna Bühler.
She remains the driver with the most wins (3), the most podiums (6) and one of the only two drivers to have scored points in all races so far.