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F1 Academy: Barcelona will probably be 'the closest' weekend of the season

F1 Academy: Barcelona will probably be ‘the closest’ weekend of the season

F1 Academy's 2024 season is the first where the all-female racing series will compete on F1 race weekends

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F1 Academy returns this weekend for Round 3 of the season, which marks the first time the series is racing alongside both Formula 2 and Formula 3 at a track where all 15 drivers have experience.

F1 Academy: Barcelona will probably be 'the closest' weekend of the season
(EDITORS NOTE: Image has been digitally enhanced.) Abbi Pulling walks the track ahead of F1 Academy Round 3 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. (Photo by Pauline Ballet – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

2024 is the second season of F1 Academy and this weekend is the third race weekend of the year for the all-female racing series. Previously, F1 Academy has raced in Jeddah and Miami, both street circuits. However, the Spanish Grand Prix is a more traditional circuit.

We come into this weekend with Abbi Pulling leading the championship, having had a dominant weekend in Miami, successfully taking both race wins. In the season-opener, Pulling inherited the victory from Race 2 from Doriane Pin, who took the first win of the season.

Pulling and Pin are the top two in the championship. But racing around Barcelona is an important weekend for Campos Racing driver, Nerea Martí, as it’s her home race.

FormulaNerds spoke to all three drivers ahead of the weekend action.

The closest weekend of the season

In a Virtual Media Roundtable, FormulaNerds asked each of the female drivers how they’re feeling about the weekend ahead. Of course, for Martí it’s a race in front of native crowd. Pulling is coming from a high in Miami whilst Pin enters the weekend having recently suffered an injury in Formula Regional (FRECA).

When speaking to FormulaNerds, Martí admitted her aim for the weekend. She said: “It’s very exciting to be here in Barcelona.

“It’s my home race, I really want to race here. Miami was a bit difficult for me, but now, we’re here. We’re ready and we’ve prepared as much as possible to be here.

“We will fight at the top, try to get some points for the championship, which will be important.”

Martí currently sits sixth in the standings on 33 points, 66 points Pulling in P1.

Pulling also expressed that she was “excited for this weekend in Barcelona.” The Mercedes junior told FormulaNerds that having done pre-season testing, they all “have some good references” of the track, but for her personally, this weekend means even more, coming from an injury. She said:

“I just can’t wait to be back in the car after the injury, but I feel good and I miss driving, so I really can’t wait to be back and be back in the game to score as many points as possible for the championship.”

A similar sentiment was echoed by Pulling. However, the Alpine junior admitted she feels this weekend will the most competitive of the season.  Speaking to FormulaNerds, Pulling said:

“Obviously, off the back of Miami, which was very successful, but that’s in the past now. Focusing fully forward on this. It’s a track that everyone has been to, we’ve all tested at and obviously, last year as well, so it’s definitely going to be really really close.

“I think it’s probably going to be the closest race and qualifying – the weekend as a whole – of the season, so definitely going to mean make no mistakes.

“I’m just looking forward to it and hopefully we can bring back some good podiums and some points.”

Joining the feeder series

As mentioned above, this weekend marks the first weekend that F1 Academy are racing alongside the feeder series of F2 and F3. In the Virtual Media Roundtable, FormulaNerds asked the three women what this means for being at the circuit and whether or not it makes a difference.

Martí admitted “it’s amazing” to be racing on Formula 1 weekends. She commented on the benefits as well of having F2 and F3 there, saying: “It’s amazing to be also next to F2 and F3 because for example, we work on the teams and we can also learn from the drivers.

“Also the grid on track is different when we have more formula on track, so I prefer it to be honest. I would like to do more races with them.”

Pulling reiterated Martí’s point, touching on how the F1 Academy drivers can “learn” from the F2 and F3 drivers. She said they can “ask the drivers how the track’s evolving” and things like that. However, it does require F1 Academy to “get up earlier and go to sleep later because [they’re] at the start and end of the day”. But for Pulling, “if that’s the worst part of it, it’s alright.”

Pin told FormulaNerds a similar thing. She said: “Obviously, being with F1 we are very lucky. We are also able to go in the garage, so it’s very interesting and we learn a lot from those weekends like that.

“But now there is F2 and F3 this weekend, there is much more to learn and that’s quite exciting because there are so [many] more races to watch and there’s something always to learn and take from it. Every race is different and mainly the races of F2 and F3, they are quite tough and there’s good battles on track so it’s also very interesting for us.”

F1 Academy will take to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya tomorrow morning for the only free practice session. This will be followed by qualifying later in the day.

Headline image: Instagram @F1Academy

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