Marta García takes triple podium at Barcelona F1 Academy round as Prema teammates tangle

The Barcelona visit had mixed fortunes for F1 Academy’s PREMA trio, with Marta García coming out of the round with the three podiums for the Italian outfit and the other two drivers, Chloe Chong and Bianca Bustamante, colliding in Race 2. Feeder Series speaks to García and Chong to dissect their thoughts following the round. 

By Jim Kimberley

García’s title push looks as strong as ever despite her first F1 Academy weekend without a win, as she extends the gap to 41 points over her nearest challenger Hamda Al Qubaisi. Speaking with Feeder Series in the paddock over the weekend, the championship leader explained that things weren’t always looking so bright.

“To be fair, it looked really really bad in the beginning because we were struggling a bit with the used tyres in FP1 and FP2.

“I’m happy because we managed to get three podiums in a weekend, which is really good — a lot of points.

“And also, in the third race, I tried to do my best in the first laps. But it was difficult. It’s really hard to overtake on this track when you have the same pace as the other drivers. So, yeah, I’m happy with how it all went.”

The 48 points García takes away from Barcelona see her become the first-ever F1 Academy driver to breach the 100-point mark. Even with the milestone under her belt, the Spaniard isn’t getting ahead of herself for the crown.

“I want to take it step by step. I know I’m doing well, but I know I have to keep the focus, and that’s what I’m doing. If something goes wrong, I try to do my best to get the maximum points possible, as we did this week. Obviously, if I’m on pole, I try to win the race.”

Bustamante was hot on García’s heels in Race 1 on Saturday afternoon, briefly getting by the lead PREMA, but failed to convert that pace into a weekend performance. In Race 2, a stalled start had her slip towards the back, and she eventually tangled with teammate Chong in the final sector in the race’s dying stages.

Chong spoke to Feeder Series about the incident after a night to cool off and gave her side of the story after the final race.

“It’s obviously been all sorted out with the team, and apologies were made. It was just an unfortunate thing where I had nowhere to go, and yeah, it’s just racing, really.

“I think we have all sorted it out within the team, and everything’s okay now. I think in the next race it won’t happen again. I don’t think it was a fault between each other; it was just more’ the wrong place at the wrong time.'”

The 16-year-old showed maturity beyond her years as she adapts to car racing, taking her first point-less weekend on the chin, saying, “You always have these sort of pitfalls and down weekends in racing, and the most important thing is you’ve just got to learn from it.”

Chong also explained that the Race 2 crash compromised Race 3 with the limited tyres F1 Academy teams have.

“Our really good tyres were ruined after the crash in Race 2, so we had to put on basically delaminated tyres for the last race. It really sacrificed pace, but it was still a lot of work to do, I mean, especially the beginning with race pace. Once we get up to speed, we’re actually in the fight, so it’s just a working weekend.”

Looking ahead to a first visit to Zandvoort, Chong said, “I think it will be exciting, definitely at Turn 3.

“It looks difficult, but it’ll be an exciting challenge just to keep learning. And obviously, this is a learning year for me — my first year in cars. 

“Onwards and upwards from here, really.”


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