The on-off rain showers could have put a dampener on Day 1 of F1 ACADEMY’s in-season testing at Zandvoort, but Abbi Pulling was in her element after setting the overall fastest time in the afternoon session.

Undoubtedly, the Alpine driver felt right at home from the outset, leading the way for the majority of the morning’s running, before being demoted to fourth late on.

Recognising that she had more to give, Pulling remedied this in the afternoon, topping the leaderboard with a 1:46.598 at the chequered flag to go two tenths clear of PREMA Racing’s Doriane Pin and Maya Weug.

“You say not ideal, but I love these kinds of conditions,” she remarked. “Straight out the box this morning, we were pretty quick and I think I’ve got a lot of confidence in these conditions. It’s something that has always suited me, throwing a car around, and ending pretty fast.

“It’s just trying to keep that momentum. We had some problems this morning which cut the running short, so we didn’t quite see my full potential in that run, but I think we made up for it this afternoon.”

Despite the wet conditions around the Dutch circuit baring few similarities to what she’ll be expecting to face next time out in Miami, Pulling said she is appreciating the opportunity for her and the field to broaden their reference points to progress further as drivers.

Pulling finished the day over two tenths clear of her nearest rival Mercedes Doriane Pin
Pulling finished the day over two tenths clear of her nearest rival, Mercedes' Doriane Pin

“1000% the calendar is unpredictable. I’ve been to Singapore and it was a torrential downpour. We never know and it’s useful to get the laps in in these conditions. Luckily, I’m British so I’m not too much of a stranger to it.”

She added: “Just to get the mileage up in the wet is important for all of us girls. It’s just an extra tool in our belt, not just for me, but for all of us.”

READ MORE: Pulling sets the pace on opening day of Zandvoort in-season testing

Combining campaigns with Rodin Motorsport in both F1 ACADEMY and British F4, Pulling is putting her adaptability to the test. With the opening weekend of British F4 taking place the weekend prior to Round 2’s visit to Miami, it’ll be a quick turnaround. However, she is confident that the additional seat time will benefit her in the long run.

“Going back and forth, although the cars are similar, they’re very different in how you can drive them and some of the procedures you do,” she reflected. “It’s been good to get back in the car, get a good feel for how it is and remind me for Miami.

“There’s a race in British F4 right before Miami at Donnington Park, so it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a busy year, but I’d rather be busy than not busy.”

Pulling will be looking to do the double with six hours of run time remaining across Day 2
Pulling will be looking to do the double, with six hours of run time remaining across Day 2

Pulling holds an 11-point lead over Weug in the Drivers’ Standings after the opening round, courtesy of taking her first victory in Race 2. Equipped with a fresh mindset, an aura of ease surrounds the Briton, who is determined not to get carried away by her previous successes.

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“To be honest, I've not even looked at the Standings,” she admitted. “I couldn't tell you what the points difference is. I know that I'm at the top. Obviously, people talk about, but I've just focused on myself. I think that's really important just to be your best self, not put too much pressure on yourself.

“I think that's a big thing for me — keeping my shoulders pretty weightless, as we said at the start of the season. It just seems to be paying off at the moment and hopefully, keep that momentum and that mindset, reinforcing it throughout the whole season. I don't want to get too ahead of myself. It's about keeping grounded.