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F1 Academy: Miami madness, Pulling’s prowess, and Chambers’ home-race heroics

Written by Sophie Harvey, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri


After many weeks of anticipation, F1 Academy returned in full force. Off the back of a dramatic weekend in Jeddah in March, Miami proved to be an enthralling affair — with plenty of action, disappointment and jubilation, it’s about time we unpack the events that unfolded in the States.


Without any doubt, Abbi Pulling proved to be the star of last weekend; Image Credit - F1 Academy

Headlines 

Entering Miami, the long break meant there were plenty of developments to look out for, and areas of discussion, including:


  • Courtney Crone would partner PREMA Racing as F1 Academy’s second wildcard driver, trading sports cars to join the grid for a weekend at Miami International Autodrome.


  • Jessica Edgar swapped her F1 Academy livery for the series’ all-new sponsor, American Express. Donning a striking blue with a chequered motif, the Rodin Driver certainly made her mark.


  • Produced by Hello Sunshine, F1 Academy’s very own docuseries will be available to watch on global streaming service, Netflix. Releasing in 2025, the unrivalled platform will offer a behind-the-scenes insight into the drivers lives and rivalries.


  • Back in Jeddah, Rodin Motorsport’s Lola Lovinfosse was dealt a five-place grid penalty for Miami’s Race 1. Starting on a backfoot, the punishment was handed after she was proved responsible for Lia Block’s race-ending incident last time out.



Qualifying 

With two practice sessions done and dusted, the green light signalled the beginning of qualifying in the states. Cars were quick to leave the pits, leaving Pulling to set the initial benchmark of 1:59.882, with 23 minutes to go.


Pin soon shot onto the top end of the timing sheets, 0.157 away from Pulling. However, both were soon demoted, making room for Ferrari’s Maya Weug with a lap of 1:59.555. At the 20-minute mark, the grid flew back into the pits as expected — time for a quick debrief, rundown of the data and a fresh set of tyres.


Meanwhile, Lola Lovinfosse was one driver who decided to stay out on the barren track. Three seconds off the pace, the Frenchwoman needed a clean lap to counteract the effects of the ten-place grid penalty she had been handed in Jeddah.


It wasn’t long before the drivers began to flood out of the pits, and began to start getting heat into their tyres.


Pulling was quickly back on form — the Rodin driver soon reclaiming the top spot with a flurry of purple sectors, setting a time of 1:59.278. A mass of personal bests saw Haas’ Chloe Chambers move into P2 whilst McLaren’s Bianca Bustamante briefly saw P1.


Having struggled with car setup, Pin seemed to lack the pace we had recently witnessed from the Mercedes’ Junior. However, she managed to secure a respectable P2.


Pulling was still on fire — ‘Pulling’ a 0.574s lead from Pin to consolidate her pole further, the Alpine Academy member’s pace was simply incredible.


Red Bull Racing’s Hamda Al Qubaisi found a late surge in performance, securing P3 behind the duelling duo ahead. Sitting in P4, Weug led Nerea Martí, Chambers and PUMA’s Aurelia Nobels.


The top-ten was completed by Aston Martin’s Tina Hausmann and Lovinfosse. The Charlotte Tilbury driver’s 10-place grid penalty meant Jessica Edgar was promoted into P10 — a pleasant surprise for the Brit.


The fastest times from qualifying set the grid for Race 1; Image Credit - F1 Academy

Race 1

After a 20 minute delay, Pulling was quick off the line to maintain her lead. As she began to create some distance between her and nearest competition Pin, it was Bustamante who’s race unravelled. Having stalled, the McLaren Junior dropped from fourth to last.


Hausmann also found herself struck with bad luck — after contact with Nobels sent her into the barriers, her front wing was seen strung across the tarmac. Sadly, that saw an early end to Hausmann’s race.


By lap 3, Martí was applying the pressure on Weug. Just as the Spaniard’s race engineer was heard offering words of encouragement, ‘Nerea, we play hard, we go aggressive’, the challenge became far harder. Going three-wide, Chambers capitalised on the duelling duo and swept up to P4.


A few laps later, Williams’ Lia Block was seen to briefly bring out the yellow flags — unable to scrub off the speed, the American lost the rear and sent herself into a spin.


Despite having fallen to the back of the pack, Bustamante was on a rampage. Side-by-side with RB’s Amna Al Qubaisi, the pair jostled closely for P9. However, car #16 was seen diving off the track and gaining advantage, earning herself a five-second penalty to contend with.


Elsewhere, Chambers was gaining on Hamda Al Qubaisi. With just three laps to go, Weug brought herself into the mix as the trio went three-wide — Chambers, the home hero, successfully came out on top and began to extend her lead from a relentless Weug.


At the front of the field, Pulling’s mirrors were empty — the Alpine Academy member had established a 5.2 second lead, crossing the finish line ahead of Pin and Chambers, whose excellent defence had kept the #64 car at bay to earn hers, and Haas’ first podium.


Our top trio from Race 1, Miami; Image Credit - F1 Academy

Whilst Ferrari’s Weug would have finished fourth, the Dutchwoman was demoted to sixth after earning a five-second penalty. Nobels was handed a 10-second penalty after her race-ending incident with Hausmann, whilst Bustamante’s sanction dropped her from P7 to P9.



Race 2

Each driver’s second fastest time from qualifying set the grid for Race 2 — hence, the starting order was loosely shaken. Most notably, Bustamante started from the front row, a position she hoped to transform into her first race win of the season.


The starting grid for Race 2; Image Credit - F1 Academy

As the lights went green, Bustamante had a great launch off the line. Although it was not quite enough to clinch the race lead, she forced Pulling into a defensive move.


Chambers was also on a charge, sailing from P8 to P5 in quick succession. A final move saw her pounce on Hamda Al Qubaisi once again, moving up to the outskirts of the podium.


Amidst the chaos of the opening lap, Hausmann’s unlucky streak continued. As Lovinfosse fought for position, she locked up, dealing a puncture to the Swiss’ rear, and sending her opponent into an unavoidable retirement.


Lovinfosse proved to be relentless as she continued her ascent — the Frenchwoman’s final attempt to overtake Nobels saw the pair sent into a spin, although both managed to rejoin the race to occupy P14 and P15.


Towards the front of the field, P2 seemed to be up for grabs, as Mercedes’ Pin edged ever closer. Whilst Bustamante managed to sail through the Parisian’s pressure, Pulling set consecutive fastest laps to lengthen her lead out front.


With three laps to go, Emely De Heus, Carrie Schreiner and Block were busy jousting for the final points-paying positions. The Williams driver was seen to run deep, her lack of experience proving to be a prevalent issue around the Miami Autodrome.


Having just been promoted to seventh, Edgar’s mighty move on Martí unravelled quickly — after losing the rear, the Brit managed to stop her newly-liveried car just off the barriers, rejoining at the back of the pack.


Whilst the incidents bumped a few familiar faces into the top-ten, Pulling had gained a lead of almost four seconds. Pin continued to hunt down car #16, but a last lap move was not on the cards as she crossed the line in P3.


Race 2’s podium-finishers rode in style to this round’s ceremony; Image Credit - F1 Academy

Lovinfosse ended her day with 20 seconds worth of penalties, one for each incident with Hausmann and Nobels respectively. It was later reported by F1 Academy themselves that the Frenchwoman sustained a small fracture to her right wrist during the incident.


After the race had concluded, De Heus was also issued a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining advantage at Turn 11. This demoted her to P12 in the final classification and promoted Block to the last points-paying position.


To fill in the rest of the top ten, Chamber’s managed an incredible ascent to P4, followed closely by Weug, Hamda Al Qubaisi, and Martí.  Amna Al Qubaisi completed an opportunistic drive from P14 to P8, proving to have the edge over Schreiner in P9.


Pin and Pulling seem to be this season’s protagonists; Image Credit - F1 Academy

Rounding off, it’s easy to conclude that Pulling really proved her prowess this weekend. She entered with a point to prove, and that she did. Despite two podium appearances, Pin had a rather quiet weekend — it’s still all to play for though, with five more rounds yet to be contested.


Driver’s championship 

While Pulling may look to have an unassailable lead, it is still in reach of her nearest competitors. Chamber’s was a big mover this weekend, promoting her to P4 in the standings after an excellent pursuit. The leading drivers are as follows:


  1. Abbi Pulling — 99 pts

  2. Doriane Pin — 65 pts

  3. Maya Weug — 51 pts

  4. Chloe Chambers — 40 pts

  5. Bianca Bustamante — 39 pts


Team’s championship

As for our five teams, PREMA Racing and Rodin Motorsport prove to be our biggest contenders for the title. Perhaps this is unsurprising, considering they house Pin and Pulling respectively. This is quite unlike last year, where MP Motorsport proved to be a close contender with the Italian outfit. The standings currently sit as follows:


  1. PREMA Racing — 124 pts

  2. Rodin Motorsport — 122 pts

  3. Campos Racing — 82 pts

  4. ART Grand Prix — 46 pts

  5. MP Motorsport — 42 pts



So, what’s next?

F1 Academy will return to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, with the action beginning on the 21st of June. Will Pulling defend her title lead, or will we see a fresh face at the top of the standings? It will most certainly be worth your watch, so make sure you tune in.















 



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