Written by Olivia Eyeson, Edited by Sean McKean
Zandvoort marked the halfway point of the inaugural season of F1 Academy. The talent on the grid is clear to see, with every driver scoring points and nearly half the grid already taking a win. However, certain drivers have impressed more than others, so here are three standout stars from the 2023 F1 Academy season thus far.
Marta García - Prema
Marta García is a 22-year old Spanish racing driver, currently competing with Prema Racing. She has led the championship since the first round at Austria, where she secured wins in both Race 1 and Race 2.
García previously competed in Spanish F4 in 2017, where she finished ninth overall, before progressing to W Series. It’s difficult to establish other racing talent when looking at the all-female racing series, due to Jamie Chadwick’s dominance. However, García was quite successful, finishing fourth in the 2019 season and sixth in the 2022 season.
Consequently, she was a driver held holding a lot of expectations going into F1 Academy and, when looking at her results, she has clearly delivered.
The Spaniard has three wins and three additional podiums as of the Zandvoort race weekend. Though she has had an incredible start to the season, title rival Hamda Al Qubaisi has closed the gap to a mere five points. Thus, García will need to improve her consistency and continue displaying her pace in order to secure the championship.
Hamda Al Qubaisi - MP Motorsport
Hamda Al Qubaisi has brought the most success to the MP Motorsport team thus far, with the 20 year-old sitting second in the championship, only five points off championship leader Marta García.
Al Qubaisi has established herself as a talented driver, with her 2021 Misano podium in Italian F4 making her the first female driver to score a podium in the category. Her progression to Formula Regional European Championship with Prema last season wasn’t as successful as hoped, so F1 Academy posed an opportunity to improve her performances.
However, the journey to F1 Academy wasn’t simple, as Al Qubaisi competed in F4 UAE over the winter break, where she injured her wrist. Despite the uncertainty surrounding her competing in the first round of F1 Academy, Al Qubaisi recovered in time for the season opener and has impressed so far.
Her Zandvoort weekend was particularly impressive, with the Emirati driver \ taking pole position in both Qualifying 1 and 2 as well as winning Races 1 and 3. Al Qubaisi has displayed her consistency and confidence in her skills through her race craft. She’s a driver with a bright future, and the hope is that she will be scouted by an F1 Driver Academy to give her additional support.
She has proved through her performances and competitiveness that winning the championship is definitely a possibility.
Léna Bühler - ART Grand Prix
Léna Bühler is a 25- year- old Swiss racing driver , who is a member of the Sauber Driver Academy. Currently, she sits third in the championship already, with a win and multiple podiums under her belt.
Despite being the oldest driver on the grid, Bühler is fairly inexperienced, having started karting only at the age of 17.
The Swiss driver has recently competed in the likes of Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, after making her single-seater debut in the 2020 Spanish Formula 4 championship, where she finished P15.
Throughout her junior formula career, Bühler hasn’t made a major impact, so her season in F1 Academy has placed her in the limelight. Though she is 28 points behind second-placed Hamda Al Qubaisi, Bühler’s consistency establishes her as a title contender.
After the first four rounds of the F1 Academy Championship, the aforementioned three drivers have impressed majorly with their wins, podiums, and - most importantly - consistency. Though there are many more drivers in with a chance of winning the championship, it is possible that Bühler, García or Al Qubaisi could be crowned champion in the final round at Austin.