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Feeder Series Preview: Jeddah

Written by Sophie Harvey & Ellie Nicholls

F1 Academy

A brand new season awaits fifteen drivers — a combination of fresh faces and returnees, all ready to take on the challenge the Jeddah Corniche Circuit brings. 

As the series prepares to get its sophomore year underway, talk turns to who will become our second F1 Academy champion and secure their next step on the feeder series ladder as their prize. In a grid stacked with talent, there really is everything to play for.

Reema Juffali, Jeddah’s wildcard entry; Image Credit - Alex Pantling/Formula 1

What should we expect?

With this Saudi Arabian location acting as a new addition to the F1 Academy calendar, we are delving straight into the series’ predictions. Although, with such a mixture of new faces and returnees, it’s hard to know precisely where each team and trio stand.

However, with the majority of drivers completing prior testing in Jeddah, the grid should already be primed with a fair amount of experience on this circuit. This will hopefully provide us with a close field and some excellent racing, but we will have to wait and see.

Reigning champions PREMA Racing, will be looking to defend both their team and driver’s titles. Upon first glance, they have what has been touted as the strongest lineup: Tina Hausmann, Maya Weug and Doriane Pin.

With Weug stepping down to F4 from the Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA) and Pin returning off the back of a successful, race-winning F4 UAE campaign over winter, the Italian outfit could already house two title contenders.

As our highest placing returnee, there are plenty of eyes on Hamda Al Qubaisi, who will be looking to turn her 3rd place in the driver’s championship into something more. Driving for MP Motorsport and backed by none other than Red Bull Racing, there is no reason why the young Emirati won’t pull off another impressive campaign. 

Of course, we also have the likes of Nerea Martí, Emely De Heus and Alpine’s Abbi Pulling, all looking to improve on their previous efforts. Having already proven to have the edge, they will want to leave the series on a high after what will be their final F1 Academy season. Starting the year with a win would be the perfect way to show they are ready to fight as championship contenders.

Amna Al Qubaisi will also return for her sophomore year, this time around she will compete under Visa Cash App RB’s banner; Image Credit - Alex Pantling/Formula 1

Although they are likely to start further back in the field, it will be interesting to see how our novices fare.  Aston Martin’s Tina Hausmann has generated lots of positive publicity as of late, and whilst Williams’ Lia Block has stated she is ‘not setting expectations’, the young American has already shown her adaptability.

From Extreme E to rallycross, we will have to see whether her prior experience shines through in single-seaters this weekend.

Above all, the grid is packed with impressive talents — including our wildcard entry, Reema Juffali. It is certainly hard to predict who will leave Jeddah with the championship lead, but if it’s anywhere near as close as last season, we will be in for some incredible racing.

Weekend Timings:

  • Free Practice: Thursday 7th March 11:05-11:45 GMT

  • Qualifying: Thursday 7th March 18:30-19:00 GMT

  • Race 1: Friday 8th March 12:10-12:40 GMT

  • Race 2: Saturday 9th March 12:05-12:35 GMT

Formula Two

The first race of the Formula Two season always promises excitement and chaos after a long winter break, and Bahrain certainly delivered on this- from the lows of mechanical failure and botched pit-stops to the highs of maiden podiums and complete domination.

The second round of the 2024 Formula 2 season promises to be just as exciting as Bahrain; Image Credit: Formula Two

Rodin Motorsport’s Zane Maloney will be hoping to extend his early lead in the championship after doing the double in Bahrain.

Charging to the front of the field within the first few laps of both races, Maloney looked confident and strong across the whole weekend, virtually unchallenged for both of his victories. The Sauber Academy driver is currently first in the driver’s championship with 36 points- already gaining a 12-point lead over second-placed Pepe Marti.

Speaking of Marti, the Spanish driver had a very impressive debut weekend in Bahrain, scoring two podiums after starting from 11th in both races. After what he described as an ‘underwhelming’ qualifying session, Marti confidently picked his way through the field to finish third in the Sprint Race, and second in the Feature Race.

The Red Bull Junior driver will be looking to continue with this strong race pace and, most importantly, maximise his qualifying performance at a circuit where this is especially important.

Bahrain was also a weekend to forget for some drivers, and many teams will be looking to iron out the reliability issues that caused chaos last time out.

One team in particular who will be looking to make significant improvements are PREMA Racing, last year’s runners-up, who have amassed just one point so far- but this will not be any easy task.

With an average speed over 250 km/h, 27 corners, and a tight, twisty track full of potential overtaking opportunities, the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is a true test of the drivers’ ability and concentration. However, despite the unforgiving nature of the street circuit, PREMA Racing also know first-hand that Jeddah can bring an opportunity for redemption.

PREMA Racing’s Frederic Vesti earned some much-needed points for the team with his victory at Jeddah last year; Image Credits: Formula Two

After failing to score points in the first round of the 2023 season, the Italian team were once again bested by the dominant ART Grand Prix in qualifying, as Victor Martins claimed a second consecutive pole position for the French team.

Taking advantage of the evolving track conditions, Martins put down a lap that placed him 0.744s clear of second-placed Oliver Bearman- a clear statement that the team’s performance in Bahrain was not a one-off.

Jak Crawford, driving for Hitech Pulse-Eight at the time, started on reverse pole position in the sprint race but was overtaken by Ayumu Iwasa on the second lap.

The DAMS driver retained the lead of the race through two safety cars- the first prompted by Zane Maloney spinning and the second brought out due to contact between Theo Pourchaire and Oliver Bearman — and took his third victory in Formula Two after successfully defending from the rapidly advancing Martins.

Despite his strong pace in the sprint race, pole-sitter Martins was beaten off the line by Bearman, and the two continued to battle for the lead for many laps to come. Meanwhile, Frederik Vesti, whose rapid start saw him climb from sixth to third by the pit window, took advantage of their fighting to overtake his teammate for second place.

After a spin left Martins out of the race, Frederik Vesti drove across the line in first place- his first of five race wins in 2023, and a much-needed victory for PREMA.

Can PREMA Racing make history repeat itself and seal the victory in Bahrain, or will Zane Maloney be triumphant once more? Tune in to the action from the 7th of March to find out.   


Free practice- Thursday, 7th March, 9:55 GMT

Qualifying - Thursday, 7th March, 15:00 GMT

Sprint Race - Friday, 8th March, 15:10 GMT

Feature Race - Saturday, 9th March, 13:25 GMT


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