2024 F1 Academy Spain | 6 talking points

24th June 2024
Simon Ostler

The 2024 F1 Academy season took another turn during a busy weekend in Spain that saw this grid of female drivers share the paddock with Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 for the first time. Alpine Academy’s Abbi Pulling continued her hot streak of form to extend her lead in the drivers’ standings, while Doriane Pin looked out of sorts as she returned to the cockpit after recovering from a fractured rib. And it was Chloe Chambers who stole the headlines on Sunday.

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Abbi Pulling is a sensation in 2024

Ever since Abbi Pulling inherited the race two victory from a penalised Pin in Saudi Arabia, she has been on a scintillating run of form that has seen her dominate in Miami, and threaten to do the same again in Spain. Fastest in practice, and qualifying, she lined up on pole position for both races.

Race one went about as smoothly as she could have hoped as she led away from the start and maintained her advantage after a lap one safety car. An error-free performance saw her take victory ahead of Nerea Martí by 4.7 seconds.

On pole again for race two, Pulling was overcome by Chambers on the sprint to turn one, and was powerless to stop the American from storming into the distance as she struggled for grip. Tyre wear was a big factor in race two, but Pulling ultimately had enough in hand to keep hold of second place, holding off Hamda Al Qubaisi, Martí and Pin in a close battle for the podium spots.

A haul of 48 points from a possible 56 equates to another stellar weekend for the Alpine driver, as she continues her charge towards championship glory. Alongside her success in British F4, Pulling is building herself quite the CV, and surely she must be eyeing up a move up the ladder for 2025. Could F3 be on the cards?

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Image credit: Motorsport Images

Lift off for Chloe Chambers

Chloe Chambers has been a quiet but consistent performer in F1 Academy this season. She took her first podium of the season in Miami last time out and followed that up with some excellent speed in qualifying for the Spanish event. Her two best lap times were each within a tenth of Pulling, and she proved in race trim that her speed was no fluke. She was overcome by Martí at turn one of race one but still managed to hold onto third place.

Race two was a different story. Chambers got a great launch and dived down the inside of Pulling into turn one. From that moment she never looked back, extending a huge lead while seemingly managing her tyres better than anyone else. It was the most dominant performance we’ve seen so far in F1 Academy this season, and with it Chambers has announced herself as a serious contender for the final four rounds.

A strong weekend lifts the American Haas representative up to their in the drivers’ championship, level on points with Pin.

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Image credit: Getty Images

Doriane Pin off-colour

It’s been a testing couple of months for Doriane Pin. She arrived in Saudi Arabia and tore the field apart in the opening two races of the season, but ever since her moment of madness at the end of race two, she hasn’t quite hit those same heights.

After fracturing a rib in a bicycle crash, Pin was forced to pull out of the Le Mans 24 Hours and had been on the sidelines recovering in the build-up to round three of the F1 Academy season. Clearly a little rusty, Pin was a second off the pace during practice but managed to close the gap in qualifying to line up fourth on the grip for race one. It was a decent recovery after a slow start.

Just when it looked as though Pin would be able to battle for another podium, she made an awful getaway from the start and dropped to the back of the field. From there it was a case of damage limitation, although her chances of capturing the F1 Academy title are already beginning to dwindle. Her performance from that moment was impressive, however, she was regularly the fastest driver on the circuit and pulled off a number of overtakes to recover to eighth place at the chequered flag, rising to seventh after the fact as Jessica Edgar received a five-second penalty for a false start.

Another slow start from third in race two saw Pin fall back again, once more forced to recover. She made a great move on Bustamante into turn four and then made quick work of closing the gap to Pulling, Hamda Al Qubaisi and Martí, but by the time she got within striking distance, she had run out of rubber.

It’s a downward trend for Pin in 2024, a slide she’s going to need to address in Zandvoort if she wants any chance of stopping Pulling’s charge.

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Image credit: Motorsport Images

Maya Weug suffers in Spain        

Maya Weug was another driver who suffered a major dip in form around the Circuit de Catalunya. After establishing herself among the top five in the first four races of the season, Weug never managed to get a grip of the track or the conditions and barely troubled the top ten all weekend.

Things got worse in race one as she barrelled into the side of Amna al Qubaisi at turn five and ended both of their races before a lap was complete. An event-free race two followed, but with no pace to speak of Weug finished down in 13th place.

For whatever reason, the Ferrari Academy driver struggled in Spain, the test for her now will be to see if she can bounce back in Zandvoort.

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Image credit: Motorsport Images

Nerea Martí shines at home

The home advantage came good for Nerea Martí in Spain, as she excelled in front of her home fans to finish second in race one. She made a good start and forced her way through into second place at turn one, and kept up good pace to hold on until the end. It was her best result of the season so far, and she followed it up with a fourth place in race two to move into fourth in the drivers’ championship.

She was quick all weekend as the Campos team looked to have found a sweet spot with the car set up, and made the most of her strong qualifying performance to maximise her takings from the weekend.

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Image credit: Motorsport Images

De Heus breaks her duck

Emely de Heus was the only full-time driver left on the grid with no points to her name as she arrived in Spain, but the Red Bull-backed driver kicked that stat into the bin with a more assured performance this weekend.

After qualifying 11th for both races, de Heus set about making progress in race one, climbing to sixth with good pace and enough of a gap to hold off a charging Doriane Pin. Another top ten in race two rounded off a good weekend for the Dutchwoman who has finally established herself in this year’s championship.

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