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Marta García in F1 Academy

F1 Academy Exclusive: García on her season so far, racing with PREMA and leading the championship

Marta García made the move to single-seater racing in 2016 and this coming weekend she could be crowned F1 Academy's first ever champion

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The F1 Academy 2023 season concludes this coming weekend in COTA and PREMA driver, Marta García, could take home the championship, becoming F1 Academy’s first-ever champion. 

Marta García in F1 Academy
Marta García of PREMA Racing on track during F1 Academy’s weekend at Monza. (Credit: PREMA Racing)

F1 Academy debuted this year as an all-female racing series. The championship has seen 15 drivers race across six rounds and the much-awaited season finale is this weekend. The first six rounds of the 2023 season saw the F1 Academy teams and drivers compete on European tracks, including the likes of the Red Bull Ring in Austria and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain. But for the season finale, round seven, F1 Academy takes to the track at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

This weekend will not only be F1 Academy’s first race outside Europe, but it will also be the first time the series is racing alongside Formula 1. The F1 Academy weekend will also be broadcast this weekend so viewers can watch all the action of the season finale.

Heading into round seven, the championship leader is Marta García. The Spanish racer made the move to single-seater racing in 2016 and has since raced in the Spanish F4 championship and also W Series. But now, García is racing for PREMA Racing in F1 Academy and has a 48 point advantage over her closest rival, Lena Buhler.

Ahead of F1 Academy’s season finale, FormulaNerds sat down with Marta García to talk about her year so far and what it would mean for her to be the first F1 Academy champion.

Looking ahead to the season finale

Speaking to FormulaNerds about how she feels ahead of COTA, García said:

“I’m feeling quite excited. Of course, it’s going to be a weekend with F1 as well, which I think is going to be great for visibility; it’s the first time the races are going to be broadcast this year.

“I’m feeling good. I have the championship in my hands, let’s say. I know I have to do a good job.

“What I’m going to try and do at the end of the day is do what I did in all the other races. Work on the free practice and try to get as much information as possible there and then do a good qualifying and just get good points, as many as possible.

“And then we’ll see what happens. I’m really excited for the races. I think it’s going to be quite cool.”

With the championship so close to being sealed and García’s current lead, we asked her what it would mean to her to be F1 Academy’s first champion. She confessed that it would mean a lot especially having struggled a bit in W Series. García said:

“It would be great, it would be amazing. It would mean a lot to me because I’ve been racing in karting a lot and then I went to single-seaters and it was a bit tricky in the beginning.

“My years in W Series, I had a year where I was not feeling really well mentally. I struggled a bit. So for me, winning the championship would be something really important, for me, for myself, as something I accomplished. It would mean a lot to me.”

Reflecting on the season so far

Over an entire F1 Academy weekend, there are 67 points up for grabs. In both qualifying sessions, the driver who takes pole position receives two points. For Race 1 and Race 3, the points system follows the same as Formula 1 whilst Race 2 sees 10 points for a win, eight for P2, six for P3 and so on. There is also a point for the fastest lap in each race, provided the driver is in the top 10.

Marta Garcia
Marta García with a trophy after securing another win, making it a total of five victories ahead of the season finale. (Credit: PREMA Racing)

So far this season, across the first six rounds, García has taken six victories. In the opening round of the season, the PREMA driver won two races after taking pole position in both qualifying sessions.

The only rounds where García wasn’t able to take a victory were Barcelona and Zandvoort. However, in Barcelona, she made it onto the podium in all three races and in Zandvoort, García was on the podium in Race 2 and P4 in Race 3. Unfortunately, she was forced to retire from Race 1 at the Dutch circuit due to an issue.

But when asked by FormulaNerds what the highlight of her season is, García noted two weekends.

“I think the highlight, I would say, one of them was probably the first race in Austria because I was the first driver to win an F1 Academy race.

“After that, I have to say also the race from Paul Ricard. I remember struggling a bit in sector one because of the track limits that some of the drivers were actually doing because it was impossible not to do them. I did this after because my quali was not really good, I was P6 and P5 I think.

“So that weekend and the fact of winning two races when everything was going in a not good way, it was great, just the feeling I got. I remember I was even crying on the last lap because I don’t know, I had so many emotions over how tough the weekend was and how good it ended at the end of the day.

“So I think I would highlight Paul Ricard as one of the toughest races in the beginning, but it ended really well.”

Learning a lot this year

Whilst a lot of the tracks F1 Academy raced at this year are ones where García has previous experience, the Spanish racer still feels she’s learnt a lot throughout her journey this season.

Reflecting on the season as a whole, García admitted that it’s been “quite a good journey.” She told FormulaNerds:

“I think we started pretty well in Austria with the two poles and then the two wins, and the inverted race, which was the first one so I was a bit cautious.

“But I think after that, apart from some difficulties that we faced like the track limits in Valencia, or maybe some other difficulties in other tracks, in Zandvoort and maybe Barcelona, I think overall it’s been a great season for us.

“Obviously I’m with the team PREMA, and I’ve been working really well with my engineer and other people around the team. I would say it’s been a positive year, of course… but I think it’s been quite good as I’ve learnt a lot as a driver.”

Elaborating on what she’s learned in F1 Academy, García said:

“I realised I didn’t know how to drive a single-seater properly because at the end of the day, when you come from karting into single-seaters, it changes a lot, the technique and everything.

“When I was racing in W Series, we didn’t really have much track time. Being in F1 Academy where we have much more track time and we’re able to do testing. In those tests you learn more with the engineers and the people in the team, like how to properly understand how the weight of the car works.

“It’s something you need to understand to be able to go fast, so I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned this year the most. I think I would also say working with professional people, how to do debriefs, how to work around the team. I think all of this, I’ve learned this year properly.”

A mentoring role within PREMA

García’s teammates at PREMA are Bianca Bustamante and Chloe Chong. 2023 is Chong’s first year racing cars whilst Bustamante has previous experience in W Series (in 2022) and the F4 UAE championship.  However, out of the three of them, García has the most experience.

Speaking to FormulaNerds, García touches on the role she has taken on within the team, helping Bustamante and Chong. García said “inside and outside of the track”, she’s been “the mum” to her teammates.

Marta García, Bianca Bustamante and Chloe Chong of PREMA in F1 Academy
(L-R) Marta Garcia, Chloe Chong and Bianca Bustamante of PREMA Racing walk down the pitlane prior to the F1 Academy Series Round 1:Spielberg at Red Bull Ring. (Photo by Adam Pretty – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

She commented on how she’s helped Chong, especially with things that Chong perhaps didn’t know. García said:

“When I was racing, I got to talk to Chloe about things that she maybe didn’t really know. Like your first year in single-seaters, how that is because it’s not easy and mentally, sometimes you struggle. So at the end of the day, you need someone who knows how it is and can explain it.”

However, García did admit that they can all learn from one another.

“I think all of us learn one from each other. Maybe one is better at this thing, maybe the other is slightly better here. So as a team, we try to learn as much as possible from our teammates.

“But I have to say, of course, I was the most experienced this year, so I think it was good for Chloe and Bianca to have my data, but also some references from other drivers that we have in PREMA.”

Praising F1 Academy

The final topic FormulaNerds asked García was on F1 Academy’s strides at getting females into motorsport. As well as having each of the F1 teams sponsoring a driver next season, F1 Academy has created Discover Your Drive and partnered with Champions of the Future.

As a female driver, who has previously raced in W Series and now in F1 Academy, FormulaNerds asked García about her thoughts on the championship’s action for promoting women in motorsport. García had nothing but praise for F1 Academy, saying:

“I think it’s amazing. They’re doing a great job. Well, I think we are all doing a great job, we’re a part of this, part of the change, the F1 Academy drivers.

“I think the fact of Discover Your Drive is something really cool and something we need. And also, now that they just announced the partnership with Champions of the Future, I think it’s great that they’re going to be looking at some of the young girls in each category. I think that’s going to help a lot and the possibility that some of them will have a test in an F1 Academy car.

“I think all of this is just progress in motorsport in terms of girls and trying to push as hard as possible to helper younger girls, so that then in the future we can see more women racing in the categories of F2, F3 and hopefully, F1 one day.

“But I think F1 Academy is doing a great job. This is what we want. We want to progress in motorsport and F1 Academy is doing a really good job.”

The season finale of F1 Academy

Round seven of F1 Academy’s 2023 season is this weekend. All on-track sessions are being broadcast across the whole weekend. With only 48 points between García and Buhler, will García be able to take the championship win?

Headline Image: PREMA Racing

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