Solid Formula Renault debut for Abbi Pulling
Racing in the only F1 support series this weekend, Abbie Pulling had a solid first Formula Renault Eurocup outing in Imola, as the young Brit made her F3 debut and bagged some important learning experiences.
Young British talent Abbi Pulling made her debut in a F3 car as she competed for the first time in a Formula Renault Eurocup round. The series was the only support category at the Emilia Romagna F1 Gran Prix the past weekend.
Without prior experience in the Tatuus T-318 car, the 17-year old lady was forced learn quickly - not easy task in a 2-day event with just one practice session, under the eyes of the F1 teams and world audience, and in such a competitive grid. It was also Abbi's first visit to the challenging Imola venue, a racetrack that leaves little margin for errors.
Abbi got to grip with the new car in the first qualifying session, which saw Italian Bhaitech driver Lorenzo Colombo conquering pole position for Saturday's race, followed by others top drivers Alex Quinn, Caio Collet, Franco Colapinto and Victor Martins - all separated by small gaps.
After the green lights, the racing action was short-lived, as in the first chicane, ART Gran Prix driver Paul Aaron made contact with Hadrien David - who as a consequence hit the innocent David Vidales. The accident required the intervention of the Safety Car. It had been a great start from third-place by Caio Collet, which allowed him to take the leadership of the race after a small mistake by Colombo.
The Italian tried to re-claim the top spot at the restart, but the action was soon stopped again when Gregoire Saucy spun in the gravel at Tamburello.
After this tricky start to Race 1, the action resumed with Collet managing his leadership and providing no chances to his rivals. Alex Quinn claimed the second position from Lorenzo Colombo - with the two drivers protagoinists of an exciting battle for the podium positions.
In the final stages of Race 1, Argentian racer Franco Colapinto increased his pressure on the Bhaitech driver for third, but the Italian claimed the final podium spot with some hard defense. Championship leader Victor Martins ended fifth.
With a 4 seconds advantage, Bazilian Collet earned his fourth win of the season, in front of the Formula 1 platform.
FA Racing Abbi Pulling was author a solid and clean Race 1: she rounded out the Top-15 and kept improving and learning throughout the race. She made no mistakes and brought home valuable experience for the following day.
The Brit showed immediate progress in Qualifying 2, when a in very compressed grid she finished in P17. The field was led by Martins and Collet, who locked out the front row.
"Really positive qualifying today with lots learnts and getting closer on the time sheets." - commented Pulling. "Still some to find but getting better every time I'm out".
Caio Collet had a better start to race 2 compared to his championship rival, as the two fought for the lead on the opening lap. But his race came to an unfortunate end when he was hit at the Variante Alta chicane by David Vidales, who spun after a contact as he was trying to attack Colapinto.
Both the drivers were forced to an early retirement: Collet lost the chance to further close the gap to championship leader Victor Martins, after a round that might be crucial for the championship outcome.
MP Motorsport's Franco Colapinto fortunately escaped without damages after the first lap contact and took advantage from the chaotic situation to advance to second place, behind Victor Martins.
The top-2 drivers led the field at the restart and both opened a comfortable gap to the rest of the pack. Martins managed the race in front without much pressure from Colapinto, despite the two remained close throughout. The scenic Imola track, though, didn't provide many passing opportunities.
The Argentian signed the fastest time of the race on the final lap, but he had no real chances to strip Martins of the victory and the latter extended his lead in the standings by 33 points on Collet.
Hadrien David led the pursuers and completed the podium, 10 seconds behind the Martins/Colapinto duo, while Alex Quinn and Ugo de Wilde battled in the final laps for the fourth spot, which ultimately went to the Arden Motorsport driver thanks to a winning move at the Tamburello chicane.
With another clean drive and away from incidents, Abbi Pulling maintained her starting position, which was converted in a 17th place. She notably reduced the gap to the rest of the field and finished her debut weekend with positive feelings.
At the end of the Imola round, Pulling's coach and W-Series race winner Alice Powell also expressed her exprimed her satisfaction about Abbi's performances:
"A very solid effort by Abbi this weekend, first taste of this kind of machinery and track. Within 2 seconds of the fastest time, mixing it with season long drivers. Top job, proud of ya." - commented Powell on her social media feeds.
Pulling will be back on track on 14-15 November as she will round out her rookie campaign in the British Formula 4 Championship at Brands Hatch.