Marta Garcia has officially sealed the 2023 F1 Academy title after taking a thrilling victory in Race 1 at the Circuit of the Americas.
There was a good start from Garcia, but the Spaniard had to fend off a charging Abbi Pulling off the line. The Rodin Carlin driver – still searching for her first win of the season – looked determined to edge into the lead, but Garcia managed to hold position and find some air as the first lap progressed.
Further back, Jessica Edgar gained a place into fourth and showed strong pace, fresh off the back of her pole position in Friday’s Qualifying 2.
A battle unfolded at the rear of the field between Emely De Heus, Chloe Grant and Maite Cáceres as they all looked to get into Turn 1 first, but the trio tangled, resulting in all three finding themselves out of the race. This prompted a Safety Car to be deployed as the cars were removed.
With the Safety Car peeling back into the pits at the end of Lap 6, Garcia was faced with the challenge of managing the pace and holding off Pulling and Nerea Martí. It was another solid start from the Prema driver, yet Pulling remained in her mirrors.
Title contender Lena Bühler managed to retake P4 from Edgar, before soon afterwards pulling off an impressive move up the insider of Martí into Turn 1. The Spaniard wasn’t giving up, though, and tried to fight back, which then brought Edgar, Bianca Bustamante and Hamda Al Qubaisi behind into the duel.
The battle allowed for Garcia and Pulling to break away at the front as Pulling continued to pressure the PREMA Racing driver. Meanwhile Bustamante overtook Edgar for P5 after the latter made an error into Turn 12.
While Pulling’s race engineer shared words of encouragement with the #10 driver, she wasn’t able to find a way past Garcia, despite getting within touching distance on the final lap. Garcia crossed the line to take her seventh victory of the 2023 season, as well as clinching the inaugural F1 Academy title.
Marta Garcia - Race 1 Winner
“I’m feeling really good, amazing. When I won, when I crossed past the chequered flag, I didn’t really feel it, I don’t know why! But after that, during the cool down lap, I started being a bit emotional, thinking of everything, all of the hard work we’ve been doing this year with the team. It’s great to obviously win the title, being the first champion of F1 Academy it feels amazing.”
Race 2 kicks off at 15:30 where H. Al Qubaisi will start on pole position, with the MP Motorsport driver remaining in the battle for P2 in the championship alongside Bühler.