A new era is about to begin, as F1 Academy races on to the scene for the opening round of the 2024 season. 136 days on from the final chequered flag in Austin last year, Saudi Arabia is the first of our seven venues to play host to three days of action, with all rounds in support of the Formula 1 World Championship.

With three days of pre-season testing around the twists and turns of the walled streets, the grid arrives at the idyllic Jeddah Corniche Circuit more determined than ever to start off as they mean to continue.

The stage is set, so here’s everything you need to get up to speed for Round 1...


Six newcomers to the series are about to get behind the wheel, whilst nine returnees will be looking to mount their own title campaigns a second time around. In a groundbreaking agreement, all 10 Formula 1 teams have nominated one driver, who’ll also be running their livery.

Reigning Drivers’ and Teams’ Champions PREMA Racing are sporting a fresh new line-up – the only team not to run at least one driver in their sophomore campaign. Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy member Maya Weug’s wealth of single-seater experience provides a valuable balance alongside the raw speed off Aston Martin-backed Tina Hausmann and Mercedes Junior Academy member Doriane Pin.

By contrast, MP Motorsport have opted for continuity by retaining their 2023 trio of Hamda Al Qubaisi, Amna Al Qubaisi and Emely De Heus. Driving for Red Bull Racing, Hamda Al Qubaisi is the highest-placed returning driver, having fought back from injury to secure third last season. Amna Al Qubaisi will be competing for Visa Cash App RB and with De Heus supported by Red Bull, MP have three proven race winners on their books.

Abbi Pulling had seven podiums to her name in 2023, but the Alpine junior will want to bring home that elusive maiden victory sooner rather than later. Jessica Edgar remains another familiar face in the Rodin Motorsport garage, eager to carry the momentum from her season finale win into regular trips to the top step of the podium, whilst Lola Lovinfosse will be looking to add more silverware to her three-podium tally in the Charlotte Tilbury-liveried car.

ART Grand Prix have also shaken up their trio for this season. McLaren’s Bianca Bustamante makes the move over to the French team to partner up with the SFDA’s Aurelia Nobels, who’s racing for PUMA. Another new face to the grid is Lia Block, as the Williams-supported driver trades off-road rallying for single seaters.

READ MORE: Lia Block 'not setting any expectations' for transition from off-road to F1 ACADEMY

Remaining with her compatriots Campos Racing, Nerea Martí’s targets are set on bettering her fourth-place finish last year. Kick Sauber’s Carrie Schreiner looks to continue her upward trajectory to battle it out front, whilst Chloe Chambers will be looking to join her as she completes the full-time field, supported by Haas.

Additionally, the season-opener sees Reema Juffali in action, with Saudi Arabia’s first female driver selected as the series’ inaugural Wild Card entrant.

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  • The 2024 grid features seven F1 Academy race winners – Hamda Al Qubaisi, Nerea Martí, Amna Al Qubaisi, Bianca Bustamante, Jessica Edgar, Emely De Heus and Carrie Schreiner.
  • De Heus, Hamda Al Qubaisi, Pulling and Edgar are the four returnees to have secured at least one pole position last season.
  • Pulling was the driver to beat in Jeddah pre-season testing. Clocking in a 2:04.990 during Day 2’s evening session, she was three thousandths faster than Bustamante.
  • 2023 Champion Marta García recorded an average finish of 3.7 on her way to the title, with two retirements the Spaniard’s only failures to score.
  • Vice Champion Léna Bühler holds the record for the most podiums in a season with 13.
  • 11 different nationalities are represented on the grid this weekend, with the United States, Brazil, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia featuring for the first time.
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This weekend is divided up into four sessions split across three days, running Thursday to Saturday.

Each round gets underway with up to two 40-minute Free Practice sessions, with only one Free Practice scheduled for the first round. From there, the drivers will head into a 30-minute Qualifying under the floodlights to set the grids for the two races, each lasting 30 minutes.

Crucially, they’ll need to nail more than one flying attempt around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Whilst each driver’s fastest lap will set the grid for Race 1, the order for Race 2 is set by the field’s second fastest efforts.


Points will be on offer in Qualifying, with the driver(s) who take pole position for Races 1 and 2 awarded with two points.

Both races dish out equal points with the top 10 classified drivers receiving 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points respectively. In addition, one point will be awarded to the driver who achieves the fastest valid lap time in each race, as long they finish inside the top 10 in the final classification.

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Situated on the picturesque coastal resort, the Jeddah Corniche Circuit captures the imaginations of drivers and fans alike. The temporary street circuit manages to combine wall-to-wall action with fast sweeping sections, with speeds hitting a high of 177.83km in pre-season testing as the drivers twisted and turned their way along the waterfront.

Featuring 27 corners, the most on the calendar, the track’s flowing layout challenges the drivers’ stamina and decision-making throughout. Alongside balancing risk versus reward, the Qualifying format means they’ll have to ensure they don’t take everything immediately out of their tyres as they’ll need to get two rapid attempts on the board.

It’s how you finish and start a lap that matters when it comes to making moves. Drivers will be eyeing up opportunities out of the final corner and down the straight to Turn 1, with a run of 220m from pole to the first braking point.