Abbi Pulling’s third place finish in Race 3 in Valencia was the British driver’s first podium of the F1 Academy season. Just one round later, her podium tally has tripled, after achieving a P2 in Race 1 in Barcelona, and a P3 in Race 2, helping her climb to fourth in the standing.
One of the key factors from her success at the Circuit Barcelona de-Catalunya was her strong performance in both Qualifying sessions, starting in P2 and P4 for Race 1 and Race 3 respectively.
The post-race testing in Valencia gave teams and drivers the chance to test out different set-ups on the car with Pulling noting that the team made significant changes after Round 2: “Coming away from the testing days we had in Valencia, we flipped the car on its head a little bit and tried some things which worked and made us a little bit more competitive for Barcelona.”
The iconic track located on the outskirts of the Spanish city is one that the Alpine Academy driver had raced on before, and alongside her new set-up, the driver was focused on making sure that she qualified well ahead of the races.
“For myself, Barcelona is a track that I know and I was just making sure that I brush up on everything. I don’t think there’s been anything dramatically different that made it my best points weekend, it’s more just that I’ve qualified well in every session and started in the front in every race.”
Despite being the only race she wasn’t on the podium in Barcelona, Pulling showed her ability to fight back most in Race 3 after she made a mistake early on and was left to manage her tyres on the track with the highest track degradation numbers on the calendar.
“Race 3 was quite difficult for me as I made a mistake at the start, got a bad launch and dropped down to almost P6 from P4 on the grid. I had to fight back and was quite proud of my overtake on Amna around the outside of T5 – it was quite good that!
“I know that I am quite an aggressive driver and that I can overtake, but after that it was a lot of management as I couldn’t quite keep up with the top three, I’ll be going through with my engineer to see what I can be doing better to minimise the gap."
The teams and drivers are now able to rest and reset before they head off to another in-season testing session at Motorland Aragón , before Round 4 kicks off in Zandvoort in just over a month’s time on June 23rd to 25th.
Pulling though will be not taking any time off as she seeks to continue capitalising on her progress over the last few weeks and prepare ahead of Round 4 in Zandvoort.
“My time off will involve a lot of training. I’ll be at Enstone and doing physical training for most of the days, before I have an event with Alpine at and then I’ll be jumping back in the sim with Rodin Carlin and focusing on Aragon. It's a track I have been to before, so I need to make sure I am on it from the get go.”
“I think Zandvoort is probably the track I am most confident for this season. It’s quite a raw tack, almost like the British tracks where there is no room for error. I quite like that and think it will suit me.”
The whole grid will be back in action on June 13th-14th in Motorland Aragon in Spain for two days of mid-season testing.