Miami GP | F1 Academy | Qualifying | Abbi Pulling sweeping double pole position while the field gets more competitive

Photo credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team
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After two practice sessions mostly dominated by Mercedes Junior Driver Doriane Pin and Abbi Pulling representing Alpine, it all comes down to Qualifying to decide the starting grid of not just one, but two F1 Academy races in Miami.

For anyone not familiar with this year’s format, the drivers need to put in two good laps — the fastest one will determine their starting position for Race 1, and the second fastest will determine their starting position for Race 2. Meaning the girls need to show what’s in them in the next 30 minutes, especially with it being a home-weekend for Chloe Chambers supported by Haas, Lia Block from Williams Racing and of course the Wild Card entry Courtney Crone who’s been selected as the regional young talent.

As the Qualifying kicks off on the unforgiving street circuit, the cars immediately go on track, trying to find the tyre temperature by weaving and moving around.

Abbi Pulling goes for the first quick lap, setting a P1 time of 1:59.882, having a different car set-up than in FP1. Lia Block locks up, oversteering a little bit in the twisty section of the track, having a slow lap time while Doriane Pin goes for P2, +0.157 behind Pulling. Then, Block locks up again, misses the apex and is struggling all in all.

Maya Weug has purple Sector 1, Pin purple Sector 2 and Pulling goes even quicker in P1 with 1:59.579. However, Weug suddenly steals the provisional pole position, going 1:59.555.

As the track conditions improve, all drivers are going quicker and quicker.

Pulling is three tenths up on Weug, being purple in Sector 1 and 2 — suddenly diving into pits. She shows a lot of confidence by this and puts on new tyres, not being too worried about the time.

Multiple drivers seem to follow the British driver’s lead and drive to the pit lane as well, including Chloe Chambers or Carrie Schreiner.

With quite an empty circuit and eighteen minutes to go, Maya Weug is still P1, claiming provisional pole positions for both races. Opposed to that, Lola Lovinfosse in P15 is going pretty slow, moving to P12 only thanks to her improvement in Sector 3.

As some drivers are still in pits, the remaining ones are weaving around a lot, trying to warm up their tyres.

Finally, Pulling is back on track, immediately putting in the quickest Sector 1, outdoing her previous best time with 1:59.278 and provisional P1 for both races. This is the same as the best time in yesterday’s practice, so she still has some pace in her sleeve.

McLaren’s Developing Driver Bianca Bustamante goes P7 with 2.00.034 while Pulling’s tyre wear is high, her new tyres looking pretty worn out already. Pin is currently in P3, the car set-up is harder for her to get right than expected going into the weekend.

Ten minutes to go, and the top ten looks like this: Abbi Pulling, Maya Weug, Doriane Pin, Chloe Chambers, Nerea Martí, Tina Hausmann, Bianca Bustamante, Amna Al Qubaisi, Lia Block and Jessica Edgar. Though it quickly changes as Aurelia Nobles goes from last to P5 and all the drivers are constantly outdoing their best times.

Then, Chambers gets a great slip stream from Martí ahead of her, knowing the track thanks to her previous experience with it and being able to use her position on the track to her advantage. Which pays off as she moves up to P2.

Out of nowhere, Bustamante goes P1, doing an unbelievable lap and being purple in Sector 3, with a time of 1:59.122.

There is less than one second between the top 12 drivers, everyone improving lap from lap. The competitiveness is high as Pulling steals P1 for herself once again, four tenths faster than Bustamante with 1:58.714, and then Hamda Al Qubaisi manages to get P2.

Five minutes till the end and purple sectors go from one driver to another, all of them putting great effort into the Qualifying. Pulling is a great example of it, as she improves to 1.58.507, putting six tenths between her and Pin in P2.

As the mark of two minutes goes by, the drivers have an opportunity for one last flying lap — if they wish to take it and not rather save their tyres.

Maya Weug dropped to P5 in the meantime. Doing great work on the last lap, going green in Sector 1 and 2, not locking up as others did in the last few turns, but at the end not managing to get anywhere further. Same with Lia Block, who stays P12, being the last one to take the chequered flag.

With the time running out, there’s a clear message to Abbi Pulling through her team radio — double pole position!

For Race 1, the top ten behind her is P2 Doriane Pin, P3 Hamda Al Qubaisi, P4 Bianca Bustamante, P5 Maya Weug, P6 Narea Martí, P7 Chloe Chambers, P8 Aurelia Nobles, P9 Tina Hausmann and P10 Lola Lovinfosse. Then it’s P11 Jessica Edgar, P12 Lia Block, P13 Carrie Schreiner, P14 Emely De Heus, P15 Amna Al Qubaisi and P16 Courtney Crone.

For Race 2, the grid behind Pulling will be P2 Bustamante, P3 Pin, P4 Hamda Al Qubaisi, P5 Martí, P6 Weug, P7 Nobles, P8 Chambers, P9 Edgar, P10 Hausmann, P11 Lovinfosse, P12 Block, P13 Schreiner, P14 Amna Al Qubaisi, P15 De Heus and P16 Crone.