2024 F1 Academy in Miami | 7 talking points

07th May 2024
Simon Ostler

The second race weekend of the 2024 F1 Academy season provided another great platform for these drivers to strut their stuff in front of the Formula 1 paddock in Miami, and it was Abbi Pulling who excelled in the sunshine with an impressive and dominant display. The all-female racing series delivered another action-packed weekend that saw the likes of Pulling, Bianca Bustamante and Chloe Chambers boost their stock considerably.


Pulling completes a dominant weekend

Pulling arrived in Miami with an 11-point lead in the drivers’ championship after inheriting the race two win in Saudi Arabia, and got the weekend off to a strong start as she quickly got up to speed around another high-speed street circuit. She ended Friday with the fastest lap in practice, two-tenths quicker than Pin.

Then, much like her French rival in Jeddah, Pulling took pole for both races with an incredible performance in qualifying. Her best lap was more than half a second quicker than Pin’s, while her second best saw off Bustamante by four tenths.

As the firm favourite to take a double victory in Miami, Pulling saw off the initial challenge of Pin at turn one, and from there she never looked back. She was consistently the faster driver on the track and pulled out a big five-second gap over 13 laps to take victory in race one.

She followed that up with a similarly imperious performance in race two, once again getting through turn one unscathed and then proceeding to keep Bustamante at bay to complete the clean sweep and extend her championship lead to 34 points.


Bustamante proves her pace

The McLaren-affiliated driver was on the pace from minute one in Miami. Behind the leading duo of Pulling and Pin, Bustamante was hugely quick at the head of the chasing pack. While her fastest lap in qualifying was good enough for fourth on the grid in race one, it was her consistency that stood her in excellent stead as she lifted herself onto the front row for race two.

Everything was set for the Filipino to continue her strong form, but she stalled at the start of the race and fell to the back of the pack. She got her head down though, and set about redeeming herself with a feisty fight back through the field. With no drama of collisions ahead to help her out Bustamante was forced to do it the hard way, and she did just that as she made several overtakes on her way back up to ninth by the finish. She set the fastest lap along the way, too.

She got away far better from second place in race two and maintained position through turn one, seeing off the initial challenge of Pin behind. From there she was able to keep pace with Pulling, although she never quite got herself into a position to challenge for the win.

Considering it was Pin and Pulling that were in a class of their own during the first weekend of the year in Jeddah, Bustamante has proven with her performance in Miami that she, too, belongs at the sharp end.


Pin struggles to hit top gear

After she absolutely dominated proceedings in Saudi Arabia, you’d have been forgiven for expecting Doriane Pin to run away with it once again in Miami on a similarly high-speed track layout. That looked set to be the case after the first practice session as Pin led from Pulling, but as those around her began to find improvements in lap time, Pin struggled to make the same inroads as she was overthrown by both Pulling and Bustamante in qualifying.

For whatever reason she didn’t look as comfortable on this track, she never quite looked to have the car underneath her, suffering repeatedly with snaps of oversteer, particularly at the high-speed chicane of turns four and five.

Much like Max Verstappen said after his second place in the grand prix, however, if a pair of podium finishes constitutes a bad weekend for Pin, then she doesn’t have too much to worry about. We suspect she’s gunning for the championship this season, though, so we’re very much looking forward to seeing how her battle with Pulling unfolds over the next five rounds.


Hausmann heartbreak

Without a doubt, Tina Hausmann’s weekend in Miami will be one she wants to forget in a hurry. It started well enough for the Aston Martin-affiliated driver, who qualified in the top ten for both races. Contact with Aurelia Nobels while they were battling over seventh place sent Hausmann into the wall at Turn 12, forcing her into her first retirement of the weekend.

A day later, Hausmann’s race lasted only a single corner, as Lola Lovinfosse locked up into Turn One and tagged the Swiss driver, inflicting a puncture that saw her stranded at the side of the track. Hausmann’s become something of a punching bag for other drivers so far in 2024, and a series of unfortunate incidents means she’s now failed to score since the opening race of the season.


Chambers on the podium on home soil

Chloe Chambers has quickly become a huge low-key success in her first season of F1 Academy. Having made the switch from Formula Regional over the winter, the 19-year-old American has quickly got up to speed in her Haas-liveried car.

From seventh on the grid, Chambers made a brilliant double overtake into Turn 11, slipping up the inside as Maya Weug and Nerea Martí were concentrating on each other. She went three-wide again on lap 11, this time in combat with Weug and Hamda Al Qubaisi in third, coming on top once again to claim the final podium place.

She was similarly impressive in race two, making progress from eighth on the grid, sneaking through turn one and gaining three places at the expense of Nobels, Martí and Weug. She had completed her climb to fourth by the end of the opening lap, bravely sending it around the outside of Hamda Al Qubaisi at Turn 17. From there she maintained a decent pace but didn’t quite have enough to close up to the leading trio.

Chambers sits fourth in the drivers’ standings after four races and has quietly proven herself to be among the front runners in F1 Academy this year.


Lovinfosse strikes again… twice

It’s not a reputation any racing driver wants, but Lola Lovinfosse is certainly in danger of garnering a name for herself as ‘incident prone’. She was penalised for two separate incidents during race two in Miami, firstly for running into Hausmann at Turn One, and then later for another collision with Aurelia Nobels.

Her enthusiastic and daring approach to overtaking is not to be faulted, but it was a messy race for Lovinfosse in Miami, and she’ll be due a clean weekend when F1 Academy reconvenes in Barcelona. No doubt her team will also be hoping to see some promising pace translate into some solid points finishes.


Pecking order gets clearer

We’re now two rounds and four races into the second season of F1 Academy, and we’re beginning to get an idea of the pecking order for this year’s championship. Abbi Pulling and Doriane Pin are of course favourites to be fighting for the championship come the final races of the season in Abu Dhabi, but who else is in with a shot at victory in 2024?

Well, Bianca Bustamante has fired herself into contention with some searing pace in Miami, while Maya Weug’s consistency is bound to play into her hands over the course of a long season. Chloe Chambers has likewise finished in the top four in three races so far.

It still feels like we’re yet to see the best of those behind. Hamda and Amna Al Qubaisi both won races in F1 Academy last year, but are yet to hit quite those heights in 2024. They’ve so far been embroiled in a heated midfield battle that includes pretty much everyone else in the field.

Images courtesy of Getty Images. 

  • F1 Academy

  • F1 Academy 2024

  • Abbi Pulling

  • Miami

  • f1 academy spain preview MAIN.jpg


    2024 F1 Academy Spain preview: timings, how to watch, and more

  • 2024-f1-academy-standings-main.jpg


    2024 F1 Academy standings

  • alpines-f1-academy-star-abbi-pulling-main.jpg


    How Alpine’s F1 Academy star Abbi Pulling forged her career in motorsport