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F1 Academy: Barcelonian battles, Pulling’s prosperity and the crowning of an all-new victor

Written by Sophie Harvey, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

After almost two months of waiting, F1 Academy made its epic return to our screens. With two rounds already under our belt, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya set an incredible venue to the championship — with spins, wins and inevitable scuffles, let’s review who left Barcelona with their head held high and who returned home dismayed.

Fresh faces on the podium and a new race-winner, Barcelona did not disappoint; Image Credit - F1 Academy via X


Landing in Spain after a hefty break, the championship had plenty of news and storylines developing off-track. To get up to speed, let’s recap:

  • As probably the biggest storyline entering the weekend, Mercedes’ Doriane Pin returns to the series after a small racing hiatus. Having fractured her ribs in a cycling accident, the Frenchwoman previously pulled out of the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA) and the World Endurance Championship (WEC), including the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans event.

  • Lola Lovinfosse entered the weekend off of a penalty-laden weekend in Miami, where she also sustained a minor wrist injury. Although she is still recovering, Lovinfosse has been given the medical green light and declared fit enough to drive.

  • As part of the American Express ‘shop small’ initiative, local Spanish chocolate manufacturer Xocolates Fargas features on Jessica Edgar’s blue checkered livery for the round.

  • As a returning location to the series and the venue of Pre-Season Testing, the drivers should be quick to take to the Barcelonian track. As prior race winners around here, eyes were set on Emely De Heus and Amna Al Qubaisi — were we to expect a repeat performance?

  • Since Miami, Abbi Pulling has become the first woman to win a race in British F4. As the pressure piles on, did the Brit extend her F1 Academy championship lead?


With just one practice session under their belts, the grid pulled out of the pitlane to set their installation laps. After a small flurry of action, it was a lone Carrie Schreiner who continued to set down the lap times. 

Having set an initial benchmark of 1:43.361, the profound silence was disrupted by Pulling, then beaten quickly by McLaren’s Bianca Bustamante. Mercedes Junior Pin also briefly took the limelight, setting a time of 1:41.988.

Personal best efforts continued to pull through — joined by the likes of Pin and Hamda Al Qubaisi in the top-three, Haas’ Chloe Chambers continued to shave off the time. Six tenths quicker, the American pulled off a mighty 1:41.926 despite her quickly degrading tyres.

As the clock continued to tick down, the grid bolted to the pits for a fresh set of rubber. It was Bustamante who was quick off the mark, jumping from P7 to P1, five thousandths clear off Pulling. Home-hero Nerea Martí was also seen setting the timesheets alight with purple, having just been dealt a team fine for speeding in the pitlane.

Whilst the Spaniard did briefly see provisional pole, she slid down to P3 as Pulling continued to extract the maximum from a cooling track. A lap time of 1:41.396 did the trick for the Brit, edging ahead of Chambers and securing another pole for the tally.

Pulling celebrated double-pole with manger, mentor and friend, Alice Powell; Image Credit - F1 Academy via X

Narrowly missing out on starting in the top-three for Race 1, Pin slotted in behind Martí. Bustamante in P5 was followed by Tina Hausmann, who achieved a personal best qualifying position of P6. 

Red Bull’s Hamda Al Qubaisi took P7 — far from where the Emirati would have hoped to be after a strong performance in qualifying’s opening stages. The top-ten was rounded out by Lia Block, Jessica Edgar and Lovinfosse.

Each driver’s fastest time from qualifying sets the grid for Race 1; Image Credit - F1 Academy

Race 1

As the lights went green, it was Pulling who retained P1 and led off the line. That said, it was close. A fired-up Martí went side-by-side with the Brit, looking to make a move and in the process, clipping Chambers.

Whilst everyone up-front stayed on track, chaos had ensued by the first few corners — starting far from her typical grid position, Ferrari’s Maya Weug made contact with Lovinfosse and veered off into Amna Al Qubaisi’s VCARB. The pair were seen to pirouette into the gravel in sector two, beaching themselves and bringing out the safety car on lap one.

Having narrowly missed the collision, Aurelia Nobels was heard expressing her distress at the incident: “I almost crashed!

Marshalls were quick to retrieve the stranded cars; Image Credit - F1 Academy via X

After an extended safety car period, the racing was back underway by lap six — Pulling had an excellent restart, ‘pulling’ away from Martí with a buffer of six tenths.

Further back, Aston Martin’s Hausmann did not have the restart she would have liked. As Jessica Edgar and one of last year’s race-winners Amna Al Qubaisi sailed past, Hausmann no doubt thought her prior stint of misfortune was continuing.

Whilst Pulling was busy setting fastest laps, championship rival Pin was sat under Lovinfosse’s gearbox. Having stalled at the green flag, the Mercedes Junior had dramatically fallen down the grid — though her fellow Frenchwoman refused to give up position without a fight. As one injured driver fought another, Pin came out on top on lap ten.

The Parisian really began to gain momentum here, picking her way past Block and Hausmann in quick succession.

By now, Pulling had a 4.5s lead, snatching the win with ease. She was followed home by Martí, and then Chambers — whilst Bustamante looked to be in charge, it hadn’t been enough to knock the American off her podium position, proving her ability tenfold.

Hamda Al Qubaisi, De Heus and Pin followed, with Edgar’s jump-start penalty placing her in eighth. The top-ten was completed by Hausmann and Block, adding another singular point to her small tally.

Hours after Race 1 had concluded, Weug was also handed a post-race penalty as a result of her collision with Amna Al Qubaisi. Having been declared responsible for the pair’s race-ending outcome, Weug was forced to start from the back of the grid for Race 2.

Race 2

For the weekend’s second race, each driver's second fastest time from qualifying sets the starting order — hence, the grid looked a bit different. With Pin, Hamda Al Qubaisi and Block all starting higher, the race would surely be shaken up.

The grid for Race 2; Image Credit - F1 Academy

A clean start off the line saw Chambers snatch the lead into the first corner, the American’s pace seemed to be unrivalled. Pulling looked to struggle, narrowly missing the gravel as she bounced over the kerbs into Turn 9. Elsewhere, Pin dropped back from P3 to P6 after what was a poor launch, allowing the likes of Martí and Hamda Al Qubaisi to capitalise.

Bustemante had what initially looked like a mighty start, although it was all too good to be true for the McLaren Junior — dealt a five-second penalty for a false start, her progress up the field soon unraveled.

She wasn’t the only one getting sanctioned — Edgar also earned a penalty for leaving the track and gaining advantage. The Brit was soon swallowed up on track too, with Block making a move up into P7.

By now, Chambers’ rhythm had helped her establish a two-second lead. Pulling seemed to be struggling to balance her tyre degradation, dropping back into the realms of Martí and a nifty Hamda Al Qubaisi.

After plenty of waiting and a seemingly ineffective slipstream, the Red Bull Junior seized P3. Although, this duel wasn’t finished. Pulling, Al Qubaisi, Martí and Pin were glued together in a four-car battle, but who would come out on top?

Hamda Al Qubaisi’s engineer was heard over the radio, offering words of encouragement that no doubt boosted her morale: “Well done Hamda! We need to think about P2. Come on. Let’s go for it! You have the pace.

There were plenty of battles further back too, including a jostle between Ferrari Academy Drivers Aurelia Nobels and Weug — the latter having a painful weekend after a poor qualifying, a penalty and a prior race-ending incident.

As the chequered flag flew, so did Chambers. Crossing the finish line with a seven-second lead, the American scored her maiden F1 Academy victory and marked a momentous moment, Haas’ debut on the top step on the podium. Likewise, it was also a win on home soil for Campos Racing.

She was followed home by Pulling, who managed to control her tricky left rear in a defensive drive to maintain P2. The top-three was rounded out by Hamda Al Qubaisi — although the Emirati was a race-winner last season, this marked her first podium visit of the season, a momentous day for both MP Motorsport and Red Bull Racing.

A celebratory selfie from Race 2’s podium-finishers; Image Credit - F1 Academy via X

Martí and Pin followed the trio, with Williams’ Block taking an impressive P6 — her best performance of the year so far. Bustamante took P7, with Hausmann having a more positive weekend in P8. The top-ten was rounded out by Lovinfosse and De Heus in P10.

Driver’s championship

Winning four out of six races so far, it still looks as if Pulling is the one to beat. Although, the season is far from over yet — could we see a Pin resurgence? Or perhaps a title fight with Chambers? Things are hotting up, and everyone is still in the mix. Leaving Barcelona, here’s who spearheads the standings:

  1. Abbi Pulling — 147 pts

  2. Doriane Pin — 81 pts

  3. Chloe Chambers — 81 pts

  4. Nerea Martí — 63 pts

  5. Bianca Bustemante — 57 pts

Team’s championship

A poor weekend for PREMA Racing sees Rodin take the upper hand, extending their lead significantly. Likewise, the consistent performances of Chambers and Martí have bumped Campos Racing into P2. MP Motorsport and ART Grand Prix continue to struggle, but with plenty of races yet to come, it’s too early to rule them out of contention. The standings currently sit as follows:

  1. Rodin Motorsport — 176 pts

  2. Campos Racing — 153 pts

  3. PREMA Racing — 146 pts

  4. MP Motorsport — 76 pts

  5. ART Grand Prix — 73 pts 

So, what’s next?

Now we’re thrown into an early summer break, our drivers’ sights now firmly set on a clean run out in Zandvoort. Pulling may have the upper hand, but will anyone be able to chip away at her 66-point lead next time around?

Join us in the Netherlands for round four of F1 Academy. With the weekend commencing on the 23rd of August, we’re in for another nail-biting test of ability — you definitely won’t want to miss it!


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