‘My karting rivals were told don’t get beat by a girl – now I’m racing at US GP’

Abbi Pulling is ‘1000%’ sure there will be a female F1 driver soon as she prepares to grace the US Grand Prix – and hopes she will be the one to make history.

Some of the top young female racers in the world are in action at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) this weekend as the F1 Academy supports an F1 event for the first time. Its presence at COTA is a significant milestone for the new series, created to shine a light on top female racers and provide a stepping stone to categories like F3 and F2.

That light appeared to have been dimmed following the collapse of the W Series amid a funding shortfall, but F1 Academy is different. For a start, it is run directly by F1 and has the support of its teams. Pulling, 20, for instance, is affiliated with Alpine.

READ MORE: Meet the fast female racer who dreams of taking her 'big character' to F1 one day

READ MORE: Trailblazing female racer to mix it with former F1 stars as career moves up the grid

The series has high-level support with Lewis Hamilton taking time to speak to drivers, including Pulling, in Austin. And next year, F1 Academy will get more exposure when the championship appears on the support card at seven F1 grand prix weekends. Rodin Carlin driver Pulling is fifth in the current standings and has no doubts the series will give female racers an extra gear as they strive for the top of the sport.

“1000% I think there’s be a female in Formula 1,” she tells Daily Star Sport. “You can’t put a time stamp on it. Obviously, I’d like it to be me. But whoever goes there has to really deserve it and earn their spot and show they’ve got the talent. I really hope it does happen, and I think it will.”

How long will it be before we see a woman in F1? Have your say in the comments section below

For more girls and women to progress up the motorsport ladder, change was needed at grassroots level, karting. When Pulling started out, she was one of the few girls and she’d often hear disrespectful comments from over-competitive dads.

“I never found being a woman has held me back,” says Pulling, who grew up loving motorcycling racing thanks to her racer dad, before switching her passion to four wheels.

“The worst I ever got was from the dads of the kids. They would say ‘don’t let that girl beat you’ or ‘I can’t believe you let a girl beat you’. That’s a bad thing to be telling your kids. But that was the older generation and it’s changing. Since I was in a kart, about five years ago, it’s a lot different now. There’s much more female participation.”

In karting right up to F1, there is no official segregation like in the all-female F1 Academy. That has prompted some to argue that for female drivers to really progress, they need to compete regularly against males in F3 and F2.

“I completely agree that there’s a point where you have to race against guys,” she insists. “I’ve grown up racing against guys. I did British F4 and got podiums and front-row starts against the guys.

“But I ran out of funding. F1 Academy subsidises a lot of it and without that, and the help of the Alpine Academy, I wouldn’t be racing. The aim of F1 Academy is to give girls seat time – I’ve never driven so much, ever. Its goal is for girls to progress and race against the guys.”

On her plans for 2024, Pulling isn’t at liberty to disclose any details, but says: “It’ll be very exciting.” As for the here and now, Pulling is gearing up for her biggest weekend of the year in Austin, where the F1 Academy will stage three races, two on Saturday and one before the Grand Prix on Sunday. Having raced at COTA in W Series, Pulling could have an advantage over some of her rivals.

“It was one of my most successful weekends,” she recalls of her previous trip to Texas track. “I was on pole and got on the podium, which was incredible.

“The buzz of the F1 fans there is pretty spectacular. The track, I just love it, it’s like an American Silverstone. The first sector is like Maggots and Becketts [at Silverstone]. Being able to go over and see the boys and girls in the F1 paddock will be cool as well.”

Abbi Pulling was speaking on behalf of Alpine Academy F1 team who have partnered with Hytro Blood Flow Restriction wearables to support the driver's strength and recovery. Learn more at hytro.com and watch HERE.

Source: Read Full Article