Meet the Formula 1 Academy driver dominating like Max Verstappen

Four races into the 2024 Formula 1 Academy season, Britain’s Abbi Pulling of Rodin Motorsport and Alpine has been dominating like Max Verstappen.
Abbi Pulling, Formula 1 Academy
Abbi Pulling, Formula 1 Academy / Clive Mason/GettyImages

Abbi Pulling was part of the inaugural season of the Formula 1 Academy in 2023 and finished in fifth place in the championship standings. It took her only two races this season to get her first win after she did not win at all during the 21-race 2023 season.

Despite not winning the first race in Jeddah, she was right behind the gearbox of Doriane Pin for the whole race. When Pulling claimed her first victory of the season later that same weekend, she finished ahead of Maya Weug by nearly 3.4 seconds.

Pulling’s dominance really showed in Miami last weekend. She had the fastest qualifying times, a double pole, and both race wins during the weekend. The only time during the weekend when the 21-year-old did not have the fastest lap time was the first practice session. Additionally, she had at least a three-second margin over the runner-up in both races.

While it may not seem like she is dominating the field quite like Max Verstappen has been in Formula 1, one key thing to note is that every single driver on the grid has the same exact car. The fact that Pulling is able to create such gaps and set herself apart with equal machinery is noteworthy.

What does this mean for Abbi Pulling?

The British driver currently holds a 34-point lead over Doriane Pin in the Formula 1 Academy championship after just four races. On her own, the Rodin Motorsport driver is outscoring three of the other four teams involved in the championship.

Given the fact that the Academy exists for the purpose of giving female drivers an opportunity to break into other FIA racing series, Pulling’s dominance could mean that she moves into Formula 3 next season and advances her career.

Perhaps most importantly, what Pulling is doing in this series is equivalent to when Formula 1 drivers severely outperform their teammates in equal machinery. One prime example is Fernando Alonso consistently beating Lance Stroll in the AMR24.

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With all Formula 1 Academy drivers racing with the same car, this type of dominance truly speaks to a driver’s skill and ability to maximize the pace of the car. The fact that Pulling’s times are multiple tenths quicker per lap than other drivers is very uncommon. As the season continues, her continued dominance should attract more attention.