The newcomers: Nerea Martí
Discover more of the 2020 W-Series new contenders: meet 18-year old Nerea Martí, one of the three Spanish ladies on the grid.
Nerea Martí is one of those drivers that you instantly feel are going go far in their careers. The first words that come to my mind to describe this young Spanish lady are "bright", "joyful", "witty" and "fun". Yet, as often it's the case for junior drivers at this level in motorsport, she is very mature for her age. Today, 2nd January 2020, she turns 18 years old.
Her cheerful and upbeat attitude suddenly changes when she wears her beautiful blue helmet: Nerea the almost 18-year old girl turns into Nerea the racing driver: a very determined and competitive look seeps through from behind the half-lifted visor.
If, at a first glance, she may seem a lady of few words, Nerea Martí is someone that, once the ice is broken, can be a source of fascinating informal conversations.
Both Belen Garcia and Nerea Martí were among the girls that we were most looking forward to meet before their W-Series debut and their final Formula 4 race in Barcelona was the perfect opportunity to get to know them a bit better.
Coming into the final weekend with a relevant point disadvantage from "Female Trophy" leader Garcia, Nerea was still mathematically in contention but we all knew that she needed some outstanding performances to close the gap and win the title.
During our chats in the paddock and pitlane, she often said to us: "It's possible", with that clear determination which is a champion-defining trait. And her recovery was indeed possible: with three victories in the Female Trophy and a remarkable 7th place in the final race, Nerea wiped out the gap and equalled her competitor's points, as Garcia was struck by a very unfortunate weekend.
As soon as the helmet comes off, Nerea switches back into the upbeat young lady again, always up for a chat. Even when, after a long and thrilling wait, she receives the news that the title had slipped away from her, for one single point.
Always supported by her former karting mechanic and best friend, Nerea Martí made history by becoming the first female driver to claim the title in the Campeonato de Karting de la Comunidad de Valencia in 2017 and 2018. Backed by karting specialists Praga Motorsport, she made the big step into formula cars in 2019, racing under the banner of Formula De Campeones in the Spanish F4 Championship, a series that has lately turned into a real stepping stone for female talents.
2020 will be her second season in single seaters and she'll be one of the youngest on the W-Series grid: a real proving ground for Martí. But her performances in the final rounds of the Spanish-based F4 championship are nothing short of impressive and we can be sure that she will enter the all-female series with the determination and will to learn and perform that we saw in Barcelona.
When I put my helmet on, I'm just one more.
RACERS: Tell us a bit more about yourself: how was your passion for motor racing born?
NEREA: When I was a child my father and my uncle opened a karting centre in Albalat dells Sorells and at the beginning they didn't allow me to compete, but at the end they did let me compete. In 2017, Praga España Motorsport called me to compete as an official driver.
This year I have been competing in Formula 4 Championship with Formula De Campeones Praga.
R: This is your first season in formula cars. How was the switch from karting?
N: Well, it's a lot different. For example, the braking technique, but I'm working hard with my team to solve it.
R: How would you rate your first F4 season? Did you match your expectations?
N: It has been a great opportunity, I'm really happy and proud. The main point is to prepare myself for the following years.
At the beginning of last year, Praga gave me the opportunity to test a formula car and actually everyone was really happy. We did a couple of tests at the start of the season because in the first races I didn't have much experience. But, one step at a time, I gained some experience, I learned and now we're happy, we have pace. We still miss some speed but we're building it race after race. Overall, I'm really happy for the upcoming year.
R: What are your best quality and worst weakness?
N: My stronger point is consistency. I am really competitive, but sometimes too much.
R: Describe your feelings the first time you drove a formula car.
N: It was really emotional, one of the best experiences of my life.
R: How was your first experience of the W-Series?
N: It was three days of testing in Almeria: it was a super opportunity and I really enjoyed it.
I had a lot of fun actually, I thought it was great and I learnt a lot. It was both a new track and a new car for me, but I learnt a lot. It was just on-track testing.
Actually, it felt like a dream to me, because it's a very important step in my sporting career.
I am going to learn a lot and I want to make the most out of it. I hope next season to be among the leading positions.
R: What are the biggest differences between the Tatuus F3 and your F4 car?
N: It's a lot different: the main differences are surely the downforce and the braking power.
R: How is your relationship with the other W-Series girls?
N: It's really nice, I have a good relationship and I wish them a lot of luck.
R: What was your first thought when you discovered you were on the W-Series grid?
N: I was very proud and I got emotional. I know that it's a good opportunity and I want to perform on it.
R: Have you ever felt discriminated for your gender in motorsport?
N: No, never.
R: What do you think about the fact that you'll be racing in an all-female championship?
N: When I put my helmet on, I'm just one more. Yes, I'm a girl, but it doesn't matter. W-Series is a female championship but it's aiming at helping us having a future in competing against men. It will feel a bit strange at the beginning because I was never in such a situation before, but I'm really looking forward to the start.
R: What is your favourite track you've driven on so far?
N: My favorite track is Montmelo.
R: What is your dream race car?
N: For sure Formula 1.
It felt like a dream to me, because it's a very important step in my sporting career.
Want to see the full interview and behind the scenes from her final F4 race of the season? Stay tuned for our video in collaboration with MotorBox!
Ph Credits: Racers-BehindTheHelmet.com