Marta Garcia wins 2023 F1 Academy Championship – analysis of the all-female single-seater Series. Taking 7 wins from 21 races across 7 Rounds Marta (Prema Racing) has proved consistency of results spearheaded with fierce determination has cemented her status in the debut season of F1 Academy.
Having carved her racing career through the ranks of competing in Karting, F4 Spanish Championships through to gaining selection and racing in WSeries in 2019, 2021, and 2022, the Spanish driver displayed race-craft skills befitting of her knowledge and experience gained over the years.
No doubt, adversities, challenges, and all obstacles Marta has faced and overcome have contributed to producing winning performances on track, not least when COVID hit and racing was put on hold for a year. As Marta stated in an MXLink interview in 2021:
Marta: ‘I feel I’m ready to go into the first Round, even though not knowing any of the race tracks where we are racing this season is probably going to be tricky. I will have to try and adapt ASAP. I think competing in WSeries ESports League helped me to prepare for this season, as I had to really focus, control nerves of racing SIM, practicing, overtaking, etc. All of that helps for sure, even if it’s not real’.
‘And I think now, even though I haven’t been racing for a long time, since 2019, I feel stronger physically and mentally as well, more than in 2019. I think I’m more mature and can handle challenges in a better way’.
Completing top 3 F1 Academy Championship podiums were Lena Buhler (ART Grand Prix) and Hamda Al Qubaisi (MP Motorsport) who managed to take Race 2 win at Round 7 in Austin, Texas at the weekend. A total of 9 driver’s have won across 21 races with all 5 Teams gaining top spots from Marta, Lena, and Hamda, followed by Amna Al Qubaisi 2 wins, Bianca Bustamante 2 wins, Emely de Heus 1 win, Carrie Schreiner 1 win, Nerea Marti 1 win, and Jessica Edgar 1 win.
With 2024 F1 Academy season ramping the profile of the Series even further, expectations have reached crescendo, largely due to the push, and shove of Managing Director Susie Wolff. All know, the development of women in Motorsport remains a huge mountain to climb, yet, the F1 Academy head-honcho has pitched and attained results to elevate the profile of the Championship along with 15 female driver’s.
Most certainly, gaining next season’s 7 Rounds to run within F1 Grand Prix programme, and receiving confirmation that 10 F1 Teams will nominate a female driver and provide car livery across 10 F1 Academy Teams edges out any remaining doubt that women have the capabilities to compete at the pinnacle of formula racing.
All of which begs the question, how far can these inspiring women push their racing careers upwards into the territory of F3/F2 and the almighty F1. Comparisons of results between F1 Academy and F3 Championship, taken at same F1 Rounds hold partial glimpse on what could manifest for the top tier female driver’s, to a point.
Differences abound between F1 Academy cars which are Tatuus F4-T421 chassis, equipped with engine specs of: 4 cylinder turbo 1.4 litres producing 174km/h @ 5500 rpm. Top speed is 240km/h with acceleration from 0-100km/h of 3.6 seconds, 0-200km/h of 12.5 seconds and lateral acceleration of more or less 2.0G. The weight of the car is 585-600kgs including driver.
In comparison, F3 car specs are: Dallara Automobili chasis with 6 cylinder engine of 3.4 litres producing 380HP @8000 rpm. Top speed is 300km/h with acceleration from 0-100km/h of 3.1 seconds, 0-200km/h of 7.8 seconds and lateral acceleration more or less 2.6G. DRS is inclusive and weight of the car not less than 698kgs including driver.
Results produced at F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 1 – 3 have been taken on 2023 F3 Champion Gabriel Bortoleto in Qualifying and Sprint Race on Saturday, and F1 Academy Champion Marta Garcia in Qualifying and Race 1 on Saturday.
Bortoleto Q Best lap Time: 1.39.319 at 210km/h and Sprint Race Best Lap Time: 1.39.744 at 182.723km/h. Marta Garcia results in Q Best Lap Time: 1.54.15 at 182 km/h and Race 1: Best Lap Time 1.55.22 at 181.0km/h.
Equally, in another comparison between F1 Academy driver Bianca Bustamante who won Race 3 at Monza and F3 driver Franco Colapinto who won the Sprint Race at the same venue, reveals: Colapinto Q Best Lap Time at 1.39.879 at 208.800km/h and Sprint Race win with Best Lap Time of 1.40.423 at 182.841km/h. Bianca’s Q Best Lap Time was 1.53.094 at 184.4km/h and won Race 3 with Best Lap Time of 1.53.992 at 182.9km/h.
The most reasonable information gathered from comparisons of data between F1 Academy and F3 running cars with totally different specs, qualifying and racing at different times of the day, running varying tyre compounds on the track which affect degradation coupled with daytime temperatures is F1 Academy driver’s Marta Garcia and Bianca Bustamante were producing qualifying times around 20 seconds below F3 driver’s Gabriel Bortoleto and Franco Colapinto. Notably, best lap times in racing between the two categories was closer given the difference in speed achieved by F3 cars to the speed capabilities of Tatuus F4-T421 cars.
Ultimately, the task of identifying how far F1 Academy driver’s will punch above their limits racing current car specs in F1 Academy depends on switching gears to race F3 cars similar in performance, speed, and power. F1 Academy season has started and finished with a bang. Let’s see what 2024 brings.
Header photo: Marta Garcia winning 2023 F1 Academy Championship. Image: F1 Academy.
Words: Sharon Cox.