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F1 Academy Zandvoort in-season testing recap

The series was back in action in the Netherlands, where wet and tricky conditions prevailed

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F1 Academy returned with two days of intensive testing around Circuit Zandvoort. How did the drivers fare?

Abbi Pulling thrived in the wet conditions around Circuit Zandvoort (Image Credit: @f1academy on X)

It has been over a month since the opening round of the 2024 F1 Academy season at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Doriane Pin, driving for Prema Racing and Mercedes, was the name on everyone’s tongues as she dominated proceedings in both races.

However, the French driver incurred a 20-second penalty for race two after failing to slow down after the end of race and crossing the finish line twice. A faulty radio and uncertainty as to whether or not the race was over were the reasons for Pin’s penalty.

Rodin Motorsport’s Abbi Pulling inherited the victory and also the lead of the Drivers’ Standings. Maya Weug, driving for Prema Racing and Ferrari, is second in the Championship while Pin is third.

Ahead of the second round of the season at the Miami International Autodrome, the 15 drivers had a chance to further hone their skills and acclimatise to their Tatuus F4-T-421 at Zandvoort, where they will eventually race for round four. Here’s a recap of the two days of in-season testing.

Day one: morning

The first day of testing was split into two three-hour sessions. A light drizzle persisted throughout along with relatively strong winds, which resulted in difficult driving conditions.

Nevertheless, all 15 drivers headed out on wet tyres eager to gather data for their run plans. Pulling immediately set an impressive benchmark time, and improved on her lap on subsequent tours down to a 1:48.170.

Red flags were waved when the ART Grand Prix of Aurelia Nobels got stuck in the gravel at Turn 13. Chloe Chambers, representing Haas F1 Team, did the same not long after as well.

Times tumbled as the rain eased off. A few more Red flags were waved as Pin spun off at Turn 3 and oil was deposited on the circuit. Jessica Edgar, Chambers and Nerea Martí each took turns at the top of the timing screens before the session was brought to a halt for a short break. Martí’s best time was a 1:47.496.

Day one: afternoon

When action resumed, Weug briefly moved up to P1 with a banker lap which was swiftly usurped by Edgar who set a time of a 1:48.515.

Drivers tried to find the limits of their cars in the slippery conditions, with a few pushing a little bit too much. Williams and ART Grand Prix driver Lia Block found the barriers early in the session and Emely de Heus took too much kerb at Turn 13 and spun. Both incidents brought out the Red flags.

A heavy downpour ensued, forcing the drivers to wait out the foul weather in their garages. With an hour to go the rain turned back into a drizzle, prompting a prompt scramble for a few more runs.

Apart from a Red flag-inducing spin from Bianca Bustamante in her McLaren-liveried ART Grand Prix at Turn 7, the field kept it clean in the closing stages of day one testing. Edgar, Pin and Pulling all took turns at the top of the timings but it was the latter who ended the day with the fastest time, setting a 1:46.598 in the final few minutes. Pin’s best time was just two tenths down on the Briton.

Day two: morning

Only a few drivers could set representative lap times at the beginning of the second day of testing before Chambers and Amna Al Qubaisi brought out Red flags for their spins at Turns 7 and 9 respectively.

While Weug and Pin traded turns as the quickest out on track, Pulling continued her solid form from day one by setting a 1:46.469 to go top.

Intermittent rain made finding the perfect lap challenging, but times gradually improved as the track slowly dried and a dry line began to form. Pulling remained at the head of the field, and shaved two seconds off her earlier time with a 1:44.311. This was over a second faster than compatriot Edgar in P2 at the end of the morning session.

Day two: afternoon
Pulling topped the timing screens at the end of both days of in-season testing (Image Credit: @f1academy on X)

The circuit continued to dry as testing resumed in the afternoon. It didn’t take long for drivers to break into the 1:30s.

Pulling however looked unbeatable in her Alpine-liveried car, clocking in a 1:36.045 which stayed as the fastest time for the remainder of the day. Weug, Pin and Martí weren’t too far behind though, just a few tenths separating them from Pulling.

The afternoon session was comparatively incident-free, though Amna Al Qubaisi did bring out the Red flags on two separate occasions with off-track excursions at Turns 10 and 13.

Round two of the 2024 F1 Academy season will take place in Miami, over the course of three days from May 3rd-5th.

Feature Image Credit: @f1academy on X

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