Abbi Pulling’s career has been propelled into the spotlight this season. Not only has it been her debut year in single-seaters, but the 17-year-old has also competed in a Formula 1 support race at the infamous track of Imola.
Her debut season was not an easy one, but she said it has “jump started” her racing massively, as well as having some excellent results along the way.
Abbi started karting at the age of eight and was still competing to win the British Kart Championship when she started to race cars at the same time. She never expected to race single-seaters but this year she began her journey in British Formula 4, a highly competitive championship that supports the British Touring Car Championship.
“Racing in the Formula Renault Eurocup, around Imola, which is such an iconic track, was something really special,” she told Females in Motorsport. “It was my first ever grand prix, I have never been to a grand prix so being on the support race was something really special.”
Aside from the one-off weekend in Imola being one of the highlights of the year, another results-wise was finishing second in British F4 at Thruxton in September, but she said the main highlight was being coached by W Series driver Alice Powell, who has made her be more professional, and opened lots of new opportunities up for her.
Abbi said that she has ‘practically lived’ with Alice for the past couple months, for help with training - including a fitness camp in Brighton - resulting in Abbi feeling that she has become a well-rounded racing driver.
But, of course, with the highs comes the lows in motorsport, and it can be very brutal too. One of her worst weekends this year was starting on her first pole position, at Knockhill and didn’t make it past the first corner. She described it as “gutting for her and the team”, as damage from that race resulted in a DNF in the next.
The support that she has received from her dad has driven her to go so far. Abbi is confident that she would not be where she is now without him and she remembers going testing in her kart a lot.
“We would always be there,” she says. “He has sacrificed a lot of time and money - whatever you want to call it."
The journey that her and her dad have been on is something quite incredible. In 2019, Abbi raced in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, which led to her F4 campaign.
“If you told me when I was eight-years-old that I would be racing in British F4, getting on the podium and racing at Imola at such an iconic track, I would have not believed you and said stop talking rubbish to me and leave me alone,” she says. “It’s been a whirlwind year, it came so quick and went so quick, it’s given me more than I ever expected.”
Abbi finished sixth in the British F4 Championship overall and has big aims for the future and isn’t “ruling anything out”.
“I don’t want to be the cliché driver saying I want to get to F1, but I’m going to be the cliché driver and say I want to get to F1,” she says. “I’m not narrowing out the other options. I’m quite an open driver, if something doesn’t work, there can be other options. And I know that F1 is so hard, only 20 drivers get to race, it’s very hard to get there but at this stage in my career I am not ruling anything out.”
Her 2021 plans could not be revealed as it is top secret, but she assures us that exciting developments are on the horizon.
“I would have loved to continue with British F4,” she says. “It’s an amazing championship, the people running it are so nice and friendly, and it’s run very well. If I come back for another year, with everything I have learnt, I would be in the chance of winning the championship.”
Despite this, she doesn’t think that she’ll make a return to the BTCC support series next year.
“I do not think that is the route we are going to take,” she says. “That is all I can say really…there are a lot of exciting things happening, so stay tuned! It’s going to be cool next year!”
All photos are credit to Abbi Pulling / British Formula 4.