The 2023 F1 Academy campaign roared into life as pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya got underway today. Enjoying the first taste of the cars they’ll be racing in later this month; the 15 drivers were eager to learn as much as they could and get comfortable behind the wheel.

Notching a total of 900 laps on the board, it was a positive opening day of running and we caught up with a few of the drivers to hear their thoughts on the day’s events.

“It was super exciting this morning to get out on track and discover the new car,” said Campos Racing’s Lola Lovinfosse. “I already knew the track at Barcelona, but still, it’s super exciting to get out for the first time this season, to drive with all the other girls and to work properly with my new team. I felt very good, and it was a positive day. 

“The car was very good, I felt good in it. It took me a little bit of time to get used to a few things, but we ended the day in very good shape. It’s very reactive and aggressive with the front, so I really like it.” 

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MP Motorsport’s Emely de Heus added: “I’m really happy I drove today. I made a lot of improvements and also, it’s my first time on Pirelli tyres. It’s really fun because they have a lot more grip than I’m used to. I’m really happy about my improvements. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and let’s see what we can do.” 

“I’ve really enjoyed it, I’ve been making big improvements. I’ve never been to Barcelona before, so I really enjoyed being on the track for the first time, so hopefully we’ll make some more improvements tomorrow,” remarked Rodin Carlin’s Jessica Edgar.

For the two youngest drivers in the field, ART Grand Prix’s Chloe Grant and Chloe Chong for PREMA Racing, the six hours of running was a hugely beneficial experience. Now, they’re keen to increase their understanding further in the second and final day’s test at the Spanish circuit.

“I was a lot more nervous than I expected to be, but it’s been a good day,” said Grant. “I had a good morning; the afternoon didn’t quite go how I wanted. I could have pushed a lot harder, but I know that for tomorrow and I know my limits, so hopefully I’ll do that tomorrow. 

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“It’s a race car so I’m always going to love it, but it’s a great car to drive, I really enjoyed it. It was pretty easy to adapt to, but it’s now just about getting it to the limit and pushing it as far as I can. The biggest thing I learnt was the limit you can actually push the car to and the tyres reacting differently in different conditions with the new and the old, so it’s been a really good learning experience and it’s a learning year.” 

Chong added: “It was great. We’ve all seen the photos and to see it in real life is amazing. Also, it’s my first time at Barcelona. It’s a nice track, it’s very flowy and I was really excited to get out today, especially in the nice weather. 

“I take a lot out of every day that I run in a car because it’s all still quite new to me. So, the aim is just to keep improving and every minute of track time is valuable. To have the track time is great and we learnt a lot here. I’m just learning how to manage the tyres better.”