PREMA Racing’s Marta García held off a relentless Hamda Al Qubaisi to win her second race in week 1 of the F1 Academy Series opener in Austria.
Starting on pole for the second time of the day, García was set to start alongside teammate Bianca Bustamante, but the Filipino was unable to get away from the line.
García took this to her advantage to build a two second lead within the first two laps as the cars behind fought hard for positions. A slow start from Lena Bühler in P4 saw her fall to ninth as H. Al Qubaisi begun her ascent up the order.
The MP Motorsport ace, who started in P7, was on a mission as she progressed past all those in her path, including a bold move on Lap 5 around the outside on Turn 3 on Nerea Marti for P2.
Further down the field, Lola Lovinfosse attempted to overtake round the outside of Megan Gilkes at Turn 3 but the move didn’t quite come off as she left the track and lost places to Gilkes, Chloe Chong and Emely de Haus.
Meanwhile, H. Al Qubaisi was rapidly catching García at the front, cutting the time by two seconds in a single lap as the Emirati sought her first race win of the weekend before catching the Spaniard with five laps remaining.
The MP driver gave García a challenge she had not anticipated, having had a three second lead earlier in the race. H. Al Qubaisi looked for the switchback at Turn 4, but Garcia’s defence was strong as she maintained the lead.
On the final lap, the gap between the two cars was at 0.5s as H. Al Qubaisi continued to pressure García up until the chequered flag, but it was the PREMA driver who took the win to secure her second for the weekend, followed by H. AL Qubaisi and fellow MP Motorsport driver Amna Al Qubaisi.
Winner’s Quote – Marta García, PREMA Racing
“I’m feeling really good, really happy. It’s been a really good day! I spent the last five laps of this race defending a lot but finally I was P1, which is what I wanted! So really happy with the job we did today, and now we need to focus on Valencia.”
As it stands
The race win extends García’s lead at the top of the standings to 22 points over second-placed A. Al Qubaisi, who has 36 points on her tally. H. Al Qubaisi sits in third with 26 points after her Race 3 podium finish.
PREMA Racing maintained their spot at the top of the team standings with 82 points, followed by MP Motorsport on 65, Rodin Carlin on 53, ART Grand Prix on 25 and Campos Racing on 23.
Next time out
The F1 Academy action resumes next week, when the field heads to Valencia for the second round of the 2023 campaign from May 05-07.