Introducing the New F1 Academy Grid
Written by Aimee Szulczewski, Edited by Sameena Khan
Now that the F1 Academy grid has been made official and the first race is looming, let's look at the backgrounds of the final fifteen drivers.
ART Grand Prix: Lena Bühler
For Swiss driver Lena, this will be her fourth year driving in motorsport. She started her motorsport journey at 17, competing in BMX at a European level and the Swiss Championship for three years. Her car debut was for Drivex School in the F4 Spanish Championship in 2020, where she finished as the tenth-highest rookie for the season. Since then, she has competed in multiple series across the globe, including the Formula 4 UAE Championship with R2Race, where her competitors include a fellow F1 Academy driver, Bianca Bustamente.
With experience in series such as the Nürburgring Endurance Series, the British Formula 4 Championship, and the Italian GT Championship, Carrie has had an awe-inspiring motorsport career, with F1 Academy being the next natural step for her.
Like most drivers, Carrie began her motorsport career with a three-year karting career, where she won the X30 Junior championship title. Like her competitors, she began competing in single-seater racing in 2015 when she competed in the British Formula 4 Championship. Since then, Carrie has branched out to drive GT cars, including in the DMV GT & Touring Car Cup in an Audi R8 LMS GT3, in which she won the championship in 2018. In addition, she became one of the founding drivers of ‘Girls Only’ with WS Racing to encourage more girls into motorsport.
As one of the youngest on the grid, British driver Chloe Grant has proved herself to be an impressive driver, especially only recently starting in single-seaters. She claimed her first title in 2017 for her karting in the East of Scotland Karting Club category, winning the same title again in 2019. Chloe became the youngest driver to gain a Motorsport UK Junior Racing Driver License in 2020, passing her ARDs test after a few practice sessions at Knockhill. She won the Junior Saloon Car Championship Scholarship, which gave her a whole season drive in the series. She has since moved into single-seaters in the GB4 Championship with Laser Tools Racing, who she has brought with her into the F1 Academy.
Prema Racing: Bianca Bustamente
Since the age of five, Bianca has competed in local and international karting competitions, winning the China Grand Prix Kart Scholarship four times. In 2015, she qualified fourth out of 91 drivers in the SKUSA SuperNationals. In addition, she was selected for the FIA Girls on Track Rising Stars scholarship and won the Scholarship Shootout in 2022 with the W Series for Academy Team.
Chloe began competing in karts in 2013. However, this will be her first year in car racing. Her karting career has included racing in the Rotax Max Euro Trophy and the IAMR Ladies Cup in France in 2021. Most recently, she competed in the British Kart Championships X30 Junior Class and won one of the four finalist spots in the FIA Girls on Track Rising Stars Programme.
Spanish driver Marta Garcia had racing success in 2019 when she took part in the W Series for Hitech GP, where she finished fourth in the championship with 66 points and won the Norisring race starting in pole position. Before this, she won the Trofeo delle Industrie in 2015, a trophy previously won by Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso. She also raced for MP Motorsport in the F4 Spanish Championship and the SMP F4 Championship in 2017. Marta has spent the last three years competing for different teams in the W Series and now has made the jump to F1 Academy.
Rodin Carlin: Jessica Edgar
As the youngest driver on the grid, Jessica has fewer years of experience than other drivers; however, her thirteen-year motorsport career still gives her the experience she needs to drive for Rodin Carlin. Starting in karting at the age of five, she won several races and was the Cumbria Kart Racing Club champion in 2017. In 2022, Jessica switched to formula racing and raced in the GB4 Championship for the team Fortec Motorsport. Here she had a podium finish and finished top ten in most of her other races - finally finishing seventh at the end of the season. Racing is in her blood, with her cousin, Jonny Edgar, currently racing in the Formula 3 Championship for MP Motorsport.
Megan is the youngest W Series race winner and the only North American female driver to win a Formula 3 race in Europe. She began karting when she was nine. Unfortunately, Megan had to take a break after a crash at the World Finals. She changed to single-seaters in 2017 in the Canadian F1200 championship and has since raced in the W Series in 2019.
In 2022, Abbi became one of the first women to drive a Formula 1 car in Saudi Arabia as a driver for the Alpine F1 Team’s Alpine Affiliate programme, of which she continues to be a full-time member of the Alpine Academy. After starting her career in karting, Abbi swiftly moved on to Ginetta racing, where she raced in the Junior Championship and the GT5 Challenge. Following this, she made her single-seater debut in the F4 British Championship, which led to her being signed as a reserve driver for W Series. She debuted at Silverstone, securing seventh in the standings and her first podium.
Campos Racing: Nerea Marti
Nerea made history as the first female driver to claim the Campeonato de Karting de la Comunidad de Valencia in 2017, which she won the following year again. In 2019, she made her formula debut in the Spanish F4 Championship. She then moved on to the W Series, finishing 4th overall as the best rookie in 2021. She follows in her father’s footsteps and has recently started her karting team for fellow upcoming drivers, NM Motorsport.
Lola has been racing since 2018, with a two-year stint in kart racing, where she competed in the IAME Winter Cup X30 Juniors, the Trofeo delle Industrie, and the WSK Champions Cup. She then moved to single-seater racing in 2021 in the Spanish F4 Championship, which has helped her gain the experience needed for F1 Academy.
The Chemical Engineering Student, Maite, made her single-seater debut in 2021 at the Uruguyan F4 Championship. Following this, she moved to compete in the USA in 2022 to compete in the USF Juniors, finishing 11th overall.
MP Motorsport: Amna Al Qubaisi
Amna is the first Middle Eastern woman to participate in a Formula E test program in Saudi Arabia. Both she and her sister follow in their father’s footsteps in motorsport, who previously competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Amna began her motorsport career in karting at 14 and competed with her sister in the X30 Euro Series in Wackersdorf, where she was the only female to reach the final. For single-seater racing, she competed in the Italian F4 Championship in 2018 and was selected to compete in the W Series in 2019 (however, her school obligations prevented this).
Hamda Al Qubaisi
Joining her sister, both pictured above, Hamda also has a similar background. She competed in the IAME X30 Championship in 2017, finishing third overall. She then moved into single-seater racing and competed in the UAE F4 series in 2020 and the Italian F4 Championship in 2021, where she became the first woman to score a podium. In 2022, she participated in Formula 3 testing and recently competed in the F4 UAE Championship. Unfortunately, during the season finale in February, she was hospitalised with a broken arm after a crash with Frederico Rifai.
Emely de Heus
Joining the sisters is Dutch driver Emely, who previously raced in the W Series for an all-dutch team, Sirin Racing. She began her racing career in karting, finishing fourth in the Dutch Rotax Max Senior National Championship. She made her single-seater debut in the F4 Spanish Championship, where she raced for her current team, MP Motorsport. She has most recently, continuing with MP Motorsport, competed in the F4 UAE Championship.