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Lia Block ‘learning to be more consistent’ after tricky F1 Academy debut

Written by Sophie Harvey, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina

As one of the most talked about arrivals in F1 Academy, there is no doubt that Lia Block wanted to live up to her name and impress on her inaugural race weekend. In a round filled with close competition, incredible racing and some rather dramatic moments, let’s unpack the young American’s debut under the Saudi skies.

Lia Block is only just beginning her first full season in single-seaters; Image Credit - Alex Pantling/Formula 1

In March, F1 Academy returned for its second season — this time, shadowing Formula One weekends. As an all-new location for the series, Jeddah provided an impressive backdrop for what was an exciting round. Although, to make your debut here is no easy feat.

As the longest track on the F1 Academy calendar, our rookies were thrown in on the deep end — this includes upcoming star Lia Block, who takes the word ‘rookie’ more literally than most drivers.

Having made the switch to single-seaters in the form of Formula Winter Series, Block’s F4 experience spans a matter of months. Whilst a huge contrast to her rivals, the 17-year-old has reigned supreme in the States, becoming the youngest champion in American Rally Association history. Coupled with her time in Nitrocross and Extreme E, she no doubt hopes that her extensive off-road experience will translate to the asphalt.

If anything has already proven, her breadth of experience showcases her ability to adapt, stating that she is ‘just trying to do the best as possible’ whilst ‘not setting any expectations’ for the year ahead.

In free practice, Block reflected on her lack of experience further, stating: “Honestly, it’s been a pretty steep learning curve, but it’s been a solid three months over in Europe.”

“From the first time stepping into an F4 car to being here is really, really cool. We counted the days yesterday and it's been 106 days since I got in an F4 car, so that's like no time compared to everybody else here. It's been really fun and I've had Williams and the team behind me, giving me as much support and testing as possible to get me ready.”

Lia Block had the support of Williams’ Team Principal, James Vowles, who is a regular visitor to the F1 Academy paddock; Image Credit - Pauline Ballet/Formula 1

However, Block was already impressing avid onlookers, snatching a stunning P3 — 0.7s off pacesetter Doriane Pin.

When qualifying came around, Block looked to be on track for P4. Although this didn’t quite go to plan, the American held onto P7 for Race 1 and P13 for Race 2 — an honest result for a debut weekend.

For my first F1 ACADEMY weekend, I'll take that any day. It’s just about going up from here.”

During the first race of the weekend, Block held a respectable P8 for the majority of the race distance. Whilst chasing down ART Grand Prix teammate, Bianca Bustemante, tragedy struck. Her position quickly unravelled, falling victim to an aggressive kerb and bouncing into the wall on lap 11. 

Whilst the shunt was far from what she needed, it also put an end to her race — yet Block still managed to put a positive spin on things, calling it ‘just another learning curve’.

Her optimistic outlook has no doubt been key to her prior success; Image Credit - F1 Academy via X

“I think making those errors is a very good way to learn how not to do things, but I'm glad I'm getting them out of the way here in this first round — just learning from them and trying to catch up on all the experience I am missing.”

“I’m learning to be more consistent with the car, not making as many mistakes and definitely going to work on that start for the next race. Obviously, we've looked at the reaction time, it was very, very good, but it looks like we didn't drop the clutch as much as I should have for the acceleration. That definitely hindered us, but honestly all in all, it wasn't too bad.”

Block also found ‘lots of positives’ from Jeddah’s second race. But again, it was filled with plenty of misfortune.

Caught up in Lola Lovinfosse’s spin, the Williams’ Academy driver was forced to pit for repairs. Whilst hindering her progression up the field, she managed to close in and salvage a result of P9. Unfortunately, Block did not have luck on her side, with post-race penalties demoting her first points-paying result down to P11.

Lia Block’s unavoidable scuffle proved costly; Image Credit - Clive Mason

“I would say it’s a very, very good first round. From the experience that I do have and the amount of time I have had in a car, it's honestly a big positive for me. Even though it didn't end as well as I wanted it to, it just shows how much I need to work for the next race and just looking forward now.”

Looking forward to Miami, Block went on to say: “I'm just super excited to take everything that I learned from this weekend, hopefully apply it there and have some better luck.”

“I think it’s going to be hard with the fact that most of the girls have raced there before, so it’s not great for me not having testing. At the same time, this entire year has been putting me in different cars at different circuits that I haven't been on. I've been in this routine of learning the tracks, so hopefully we can get up to speed as quickly as possible and just see what else we can do.”

As the closest thing to a home race, Block will be hoping to bag her first points of the season and get her campaign off to a better start. Want to see how she fares? The action kicks off LIVE on the 3rd of May, so make sure you tune in to F1 Academy’s official YouTube channel or your local streaming service.

For more information on where to watch, follow the link below:


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