Friday was a rollercoaster of emotions for Marta García, who starts on pole for the inaugural race of the season after an unintentional technical infringement on Rodin Carlin’s cars saw Abbi Pulling disqualified from both Qualifying sessions.
Throughout the rain-impacted sessions on Friday afternoon, García and Pulling had chopped and changed positions at the top of the time standings, but it was Pulling who would come out triumphant, narrowly beating the PREMA Racing driver by only a tenth of a second in both outings.
García reflected on qualifying after the sessions: “Everything was quite close, of course, it was looking like it was going to be dry, but then it started raining and we had to figure out what we needed to do. In Quali 1, I was starting to find the best line, but Abbi was really close and we kept changing from P1 and P2 throughout the session.
“In the end, she finished above me, but by just a tenth. I was frustrated as I wanted to get pole obviously, so in Quali 2, I thought, let’s push for this one, but she still got about a tenth faster which was again frustrating as qualifying gets you points for the standings.”
However, a disqualification for all three Rodin Carlin drivers after non-homologated parts were found to have been installed on the leading edge of the floor under the sidepods led to García inheriting pole position after an eventful first day in the series.
The Spaniard was delighted to be promoted to pole: “After Abbi’s penalty yesterday afternoon, I was given pole so I was really happy and really excited because this is what I wanted and I finally got it somehow. Now I just need to make sure that we still work to do a good day today.”
The PREMA driver also enters the history books as the first woman to claim pole: “It feels really nice to make history and become the first woman to be pole sitter in the F1 Academy. It feels amazing, but as I said, we need to keep working and finish our job today.”
García raced at the Red Bull Ring in 2021 and although the race didn’t go as planned, she believes the experience could work in her favour, adding: “Having some experience like I do around Spielberg maybe gives me a slight advantage, but I don’t think it’s too much of one because my race here in 2021 was really bad and I was nowhere! Maybe for some overtaking, I have some experience on the track which is good.”
The first race for Round 1 of F1 Academy kicks off at 10:40 local time, with Races 2 and 3 following at 14.05 and 17.20 respectively.