The 2023 F1 Academy season finale in Austin was memorable for many reasons, but most of all for Marta García sealing the first ever title in Race 1 with her seventh victory of the year.
Reflecting on her feelings after becoming the inaugural winner, the PREMA Racing driver admitted that it had been an emotional moment.
“It’s amazing. There were mixed emotions, a lot of emotions,” she explained. “When I crossed the finish line my eyes were watering. I was crying, but it’s because of all of the work that we’ve been doing during this year, working with the team so hard, in the simulator, outside of the track.”
“On track there were a lot of tough days. We had a lot of months as well from May to July, working a lot through a lot of racing, so it’s great, it’s like this feeling of ‘we did it’ after all this work.”
There have been plenty of highlights for García throughout the campaign but becoming the series champion via her win at the Circuit of the Americas – during F1 Academy’s first weekend on the support bill of a Formula 1 event – proved to be particularly special moment.
“I would say that win in Race 1 was probably the best, because obviously we’re with F1 here in Austin, all the crowd, everything, and because it was the title win as well,” García said.
“So, it was both winning the race and winning the title, so of course I was super happy with that. I would say that was the highlight.”
When asked if racing alongside F1 had added to the excitement of her win, the Spanish driver explained: “Yeah, of course. Being here, it’s great – we’re with F1 and we’re being broadcasted.
“It feels like we have a lot of support, because at the end of the day, when we were racing before, we were racing with other categories where there were less people. It’s just great also to have a lot of support from the fans here in Austin.”
After returning to parc ferme following her title-sealing Race 1 victory in Austin, Garcíawas greeted by another champion in the form of Lewis Hamilton, something that the F1 Academy victor admits was a memory to savour.
“It was amazing. I’ve always looked up to Lewis, he’s one of my favourite drivers in F1, and just having him there – waiting for me, to congratulate me – it’s amazing,” García reflected.
“I think it’s thanks to Lewis as well for trying to inspire people and giving visibility to F1 Academy – he’s really inclusive, so it’s just great. Also Carlos Sainz, of course. I’m following Carlos’ year, he’s done well, he’s won a race, he’s doing really good, and just being able to have some nice conversation with him after the win was really good.”
The weekend at the Circuit of the Americas brought a thrilling end to the debut F1 Academy season. With the category aiming to create change for women and girls, García believes that 2023 is only just the beginning.
“As we say, it’s just getting started. I think there is a lot coming right now – 10 F1 teams for next year, it’s also good to be with F1. I think it’s going to be massive,” the new champion said.
“I think it’s great for the opportunities for young women. Right now it’s just been the first year, but I think there is a lot to come. I’m sure it’s going to be great, and also with the programmes F1 Academy runs like Discover Your Drive and Champions of the Future. All of this is really good, and I think there are still more things to come, more things to be able to do. It will be mega.”
Following her history-making title win, García is likely to be a role model for many young women and girls looking to enter motorsport. What would the 2023 F1 Academy champion say to them?
“I would say if you like motorsport, just get into motorsport, tell your parents ‘I want to race, I want to try,’” the 23-year-old concluded.
“Then if you like it, just do it. There is a lot more support available, with programmes like Discover Your Drive. I think there’s going to be much more support as well in the future. I would say, follow your dreams and keep going.”