Marta García wins F1 Academy inaugural race
Marta García took the first historic victory in F1 Academy after an all-Spanish battle for the win with Nerea Martí.
Spaniard Marta García took a historic win at Red Bull Ring, Austria, where the inaugural weekend of the brand-new F1 Academy championship got underway.
García, 22, had claimed pole position yesterday, after Rodin Carlin’s three cars were disqualified for fitting a non-homologated part which had no performance gain according to the team. Abbi Pulling had taken pole in both Q1 and Q2, finishing less than a tenth ahead of Prema’s García.
After a wet qualifying, race one was looking to be dry - but rain drops appeared around 30 minutes before the start. Rain eased and, as the cars lined up on the grid, the conditions were damp but the racing line was fully dry.
This factor ended up playing a role at lights out, as Marta García had a good getaway, followed by Nerea Martí from the second row, while Bianca Bustamante – on the wetter line – lost second place.
At turn 1, it was a Valencian 1-2; there was chaos just behind at turn 3, where Carrie Schreiner and Emely de Heus tangled and collected the Sauber-liveried Tatuus of Léna Bühler. Amna Al Qubaisi also had to go off track in the gravel to avoid the accident, but could rejoin.
With three cars already out on lap 1, the Safety Car was deployed.
From last - following a technical issue in qualifying- Hamda Al Qubaisi had the perfect start and, with experience, she managed to advance into fifth place after the first lap. Megan Gilkes also had a strong start and was fourth.
At the restart on lap 4, Marta García was surprised by Nerea Martí, who got into the lead at turn 1. Race car rookie Chloe Chong - the youngest driver of the field - also was already up to sixth, but was then passed by the recovering Abbi Pulling and Jessica Edgar.
Just behind the top three, a great battle between Gilkes, Hamda Al Qubaisi and Pulling; the Emirati got by and hunted down the leading trio.
García and Martí were running close to each other, with Bustamante closing in.
Marta took over the lead on lap 7 with a clean pass at turn 3 and then tried to pull away, setting the fastest lap.
Amna Al Qubaisi was charging through the field: she passed Maite Caceres, Chloe Grant, Lola Lovinfosse and Chloe Chong in the course of few laps.
Her sister Hamda was trying to grab a podium spot and put pressure on Bustamante for several laps, but the Filipina defended well.
Hamda would eventually have to defend from Pulling as well in the closing laps.
With four minutes to go, a light rain made its return onto the track. While García had a safe gap of over 2 seconds, it was down to the wire for the third spot: in a four car wide fight on the main straight, Bustamante held on to third, while Al Qubaisi and Pulling went wheel to wheel. An unfortunate mistake on the final lap at turn 3 ended with Hamda spinning and dropping to tenth.
Marta García claimed her first win in the opening race of the weekend and of the season, four seconds ahead of Nerea Martí. Bianca Bustamante completed the podium with a remarkable performance.
Jessica Edgar was a very solid fourth, ahead of Abbi Pulling and Amna Al Qubaisi – protagonist of a brilliant recovery. Megan Gilkes had dropped down the order towards the final laps but was still able to finish seventh; Chloe Chong was eighth in her first ever formula race, scoring points and holding her own in the fierce battles.
Hamda Al Qubaisi was disappointed with ninth after a spectacular charge; she was promoted to P9 after a five second penalty for Lola Lovinfosse, deemed at fault for a contact at turn 3 with Chloe Grant. The Scottish and Maite Caceres rounded out the finishers, just outside the point scoring positions.
The second race will get underway at 14:05.