Lia Block: “I’m never going to be happy until I’m winning” in F1 Academy as she turns her attention to Barcelona

Photo Credit: Williams Racing
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At only 17-year-old, Lia Block hopped into her maiden F1 Academy season, freshly switching from rallying to single-seaters and determined to be at the top. Now, with two out of seven rounds of the all-female series behind us and the third one in Barcelona around the corner, the American driver finds herself 14th in the Drivers’ Championship, scoring one single point so far.

Block recalls her lack of luck in the two opening races in Jeddah, where in the first one she hit a wall on the penultimate lap and in the second she had an unavoidable contact with Lola Lovinfosse, who was knocked into a spin by Chloe Chambers. Then finally, at Miami’s Race 2, she was promoted to her first F1 Academy point, ending her weekend at home on a positive note.

Her short time in the single-seater category proved to be a challenge, however the young driver shows progress and knows there are still a lot of things she needs to work on to get the results she wants.

“It was a very, very short time frame from first getting in an F4 car to my first F1 ACADEMY race, so I was satisfied.

“I’m never going to be happy until I’m winning, but I have to understand in my brain that it can’t happen right now. I’m very new to this stuff, so it’s all about those little steps that get you towards your end goal.

“Miami was definitely a step back for me, and I think it’s just going [to] take more time to be more comfortable in the car and in racing,” she explained. 

“It’s funny how much I’m still learning at this stage, but every time it’s going to get better and the more seat time I have, it’s going to help.

“At the same time, it’s hard to come away for almost a month, then get back in the car and go straight into a race. That’s why I’m thankful to have had the Spanish F4 round and use that as a bit of a momentum starter going into Barcelona.”

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is the first track on the 2024 F1 Academy calendar that is not a street circuit, though Block believes it comes with its own challenges and issues.

“The track is really hard. It seems a little bit boring sometimes, but the tyre degradation makes it very, very difficult. You get about two to three laps on good tyres before they fall off, so you’ve got to get everything done really quick, especially in Qualifying,” she admitted.

“Then the race is about staying on the track at the end of the 30 minutes. It’s definitely going to be difficult and I think we’re going to see a bit of a change of who’s at the front of the field. It’s different coming from a street circuit to a more traditional one and we’ll see other drivers shine.

“I’m kind of always at a disadvantage anyways, so why not make it a little bit more,” Block joked. “In Miami, we saw drivers who had been there before looked more comfortable and showed that in their Qualifying times as well as their race results.”

The American’s only experience on the track in Barcelona is the testing F1 Academy did earlier this year, but she’s not going to let that scare her away from performing the best she can: “I never really think about that I haven’t been on a track because the tracks are new to me every single time this year.

“The good thing is that we’ve done two days of testing there, so I think I will be more comfortable than I was in Miami. Building my confidence from the start of the weekend is definitely going to be important, but however it ends up, I’m still learning, so it’s going to be the same either way.”

“There are other things that I haven’t won at consistently, so I know how to lose,” she noted.

“The mindset is I want to win and I know that’s hard to say right now, but at the end of this year if I keep going and improving every race, I think we can eventually be at the top.

“That just gives me extra motivation. It may leave me a bit more disappointed sometimes, but I think if you don’t have that mentality, then you’re never going to actually be winning. It’s hard, but I think it’s going to make me a better driver in the end.

“It’s going to be higher and higher each time. I had pretty big expectations for Miami and I did not meet them, so it’s going to be push as hard as I can every single time. Keep learning, keep evolving and getting more confident in the car.”

The Williams driver concluded: “For Barcelona and Zandvoort next, if I can just keep that momentum rolling and consistently be in the points, I think I will be pretty satisfied — I won’t be happy, but as long as I just keep getting better.”