F1 Academy's only U.S. race weekend in Miami hosted great racing and promise for more

MIAMI – Formula 1 Academy’s second season is in full swing now as it just wrapped up its second race weekend at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix alongside the circus that is Formula 1. Abbi Pulling, driving for Rodin Motorsport and supported by Alpine, convincingly stole first place in both 13-lap races around the Miami Autodrome.

This weekend was the only one that F1 Academy will spend in the U.S. this year, as the other six racing weekends will be at various tracks across the globe. And if you missed it, you missed out on a lot of exciting racing that’s already revealing some standout drivers.

In case you’re still new to F1 Academy (started racing in 2023), know it’s a series launched and supported by Formula 1 in an effort to prepare and develop women drivers in hopes of graduating them to higher series, and perhaps all the way to F1. For example, the series’ champion from 2023, Marta Garcia, has moved on to the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine and will also drive in a Formula E rookie test. And since F1 Academy follows Formula 1 around the world (for seven of the 24 race weekends), that means its drivers race at the same tracks and in front of all the same fans as F1. It’s a huge exposure boost, as Pulling told us right after coming down from the podium in the media pen.

“It’s definitely another level, the fans as you’re getting in the car, there’s people screaming as you’re driving away, and you’re on the grid and there’s people waving at you, and it’s a lot, but I think it’s what we need, and the boost that we need. It certainly drives me to keep going and keep pushing harder. It’s a good thing for women’s sport,” Pulling said.

f1 academy round 2 miami race 2 1

It’s exciting to see as a fan of motor racing, too. All the ceremony you’re accustomed to seeing post-race in F1 plays out just the same in F1 Academy – there’s even a Drive To Survive-like docu-series coming. Podium finishers pull up to their numbers in parc fermé (celebrate!). They get post-race interviews on camera; the podium procedure is a copycat of F1, and all the pomp and circumstance is present. That said, the champagne is alcohol-free (many of the racers aren’t of legal drinking age quite yet).

American fans got to see an American in Chloe Chambers take the podium in the first race of the weekend with a third-place finish in her Haas-liveried car. Chambers managed a strong fourth in the second race, but was the only American in an open-wheel car on the podium last weekend as the one American in F1, Logan Sargeant, saw his race end after colliding with Kevin Magnussen.

One of the other series favorites is Bianca Bustamente (McLaren). After stalling on the grid in her first race, she made a strong charge through the pack to score points in ninth. Then in the second race, she held off a fast Doriane Pin (Mercedes) to secure second. Bustamente is only 19 years old, but is already pegged as a potential star and had a great weekend in Miami.

“It’s intense,” Bustamente tells us about her Miami races. “I always say that Miami is like no other place, it’s just beautiful. The weather is good, food is great, people are great, the atmosphere is mega, so it’s nice to be racing underneath the F1 spotlight, a lot of people a lot of fans. But yeah we came into the weekend not really expecting to have this pace that we had. I felt like we’ve done our prep to prepare to make sure we leave here with no regrets, and I didn’t really know we were that strong, but it’s just because of the hard work that the team has put in.”

f1 academy round 2 miami race 2 2

Beyond the close and highly entertaining racing, the local trackside commentary playing over the track’s loudspeakers (completely separate from the excellent TV broadcast) was neither good nor entertaining. A report from Jalopnik highlighted some of the lowlights, as announcers waded into sexist remarks. One example being that as F1 Academy began, announcers said “girls, put your phones down, it’s time to watch,” directed toward the crowds in Miami. Additionally, people around the track noted that commentators started off several times saying “not to be sexist … “ and also made numerous comments on the drivers’ appearance/hair/age.

Race organizers noticed this and remedied matters for the second day, releasing a statement in response.

“The inappropriate commentary during Saturday’s F1 Academy race was brought to our attention and swiftly addressed. The comments made are unacceptable and not reflective of the Miami Grand Prix or its organizers. We were proud to support F1 Academy this weekend and will continue to do so as they work to increase diversity and representation in motorsport.”

As bad as all that was, we’re thrilled to have been to an F1 weekend with F1 Academy racing alongside, and can highly recommend searching out a weekend on the calendar that the series will be racing at. Competition is fierce; there’s a lot of passing, and it’s putting impressive women drivers under the spotlight that they might not have otherwise had. Pulling is quickly making a name for herself as a potential championship winner after winning three of the first four races and doing so with plenty of margin. The series (available for live streaming on F1TV) heads to Barcelona next for the June 21-23 Formula 1 race weekend.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top