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Garcia PREMA F1 Academy Spielberg

F1 Academy’s Marta García on her dominant drive at the season opener

The 2023 season of the F1 Academy has begun with round one in Spielberg, Austria, complete

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Last weekend marked the beginning of a new era in motorsport as the inaugural round of the F1 Academy took place with Marta García of PREMA Racing taking two race victories.

Garcia F1 Academy PREMA
Race winner Marta Garcia celebrates following race 3 of the F1 Academy Championship Round 1:Spielberg. (Photo by Adam Pretty – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Formula One has two main junior categories in F2 and F3 that see young drivers progress through their racing careers in the aim of joining F1. However, F1 is notoriously male-dominated and so, a new feeder series was created. The F1 Academy is an all-new, all-female feeder series, below Formula 3. The championship consists of 15 young females racing for five prominent teams in junior racing series.

Last weekend was F1 Academy’s debut as the first round of the seven-race series took place. The first race weekend was in Spielberg, Austria, and it saw two different race winners across the three races.

F1 Academy has two qualifying sessions, both of which saw PREMA Racing’s Marta García take pole position. García had qualified in P2 but Abbi Pulling, as well as the other Rodin Carlin drivers Jessica Edgar and Megan Gilkes, was disqualified. As a result of the disqualification, García began Race 1 and Race 3 on pole position and Race 2 in P8.

In Race 2, García finished P7 and it was Amna Al-Qubaisi who took the victory. However, in Race 1 and Race 2, García was able to convert her pole positions into race victories, meaning she leads the championship.

After all three races were complete, FormulaNerds spoke to García along with selected media about her dominant weekend.

García’s reflection on Spielberg

García is F1 Academy’s first ever race winner and championship leader. Speaking to media, the PREMA driver said “it feels great to be P1 in both races” and “it’s really nice” to now lead the championship. She admitted that PREMA and herself still have “a lot of work to do”, but overall, she’s “really, really happy with the job, with how it went.”

Race reflection

In Race 1, it wasn’t plain sailing for García. An early Safety Car was brought out. Unfortunately for García, this allowed Nerea Martí to overtake her and get the lead.

García said after the race that once the race was restarted, she “had a problem in the straight line with the limiter.” This meant she “lost probably one second”, but the young Spaniard was able to overtake Martí and retake the lead.

García said that in Race 1, she “didn’t risk it too much.” This carried over into the second race, which García said had less pressure because of where she started. García told those in the press conference:

“When you start the first race, there were nerves as I haven’t raced anywhere since last year, but by the time we got to Race 2, it was like, we’ve done it once we can do it again.

“In Race 2, starting from P8 means you have less pressure, but I didn’t want to risk it too much. I got P7 and getting two points for the series is good, even though I could have got some more if I had risked it.

“We need to keep working for next week at Valencia, which is my home race, so I am really looking forward to it.”

Garcia Spielberg Race F1 Academy
Marta Garcia leads Nerea Marti and Bianca Bustamente on track during race 1 of the F1 Academy Championship Round 1:Spielberg. (Photo by Adam Pretty – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Race 3 saw García continue her dominance. The PREMA driver reflected on the weekend overall and said:

“I think the weekend overall was really good. We’ve done a good job. Also the team, I’m really thankful for the team, for everything they’ve done because they are really professional.

“We made it, we got two P1s, which is really good. Also, the four points from Qualifying so yeah, just really happy with the weekend. But as I said, still working for next week which is Valencia, my home race.”

Moving onto Valencia

Valencia is round two of the F1 Academy season, which is then followed by Barcelona. FormulaNerds asked García after the weekend what she’ll be working on ahead of her home race.

The Spaniard praised her team on the “very good job” they’ve done and said, now it’ll be a week of working in the factory. García said:

“So now we’re heading to PREMA, to the factory. We’ll be doing sim Monday and Tuesday for Valencia and Barcelona as well.

“So just focusing on the job and try to do well.”

The Valencian round of the season is this coming weekend where all 15 drivers will take to the track to try to score more points for their championship fights. Will García be able to win a third F1 Academy race?

Headline Image: GettyImages

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