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Everything you need to know ahead of F1 Academy’s title-deciding finale

From 21 to 23 October, F1 Academy returns for its seventh and final round at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).

The season finale will see many firsts go down in the series’ history: its first Drivers’ Champion, first Teams’ Champion, first feature on a Formula 1 race weekend, and first live broadcasting.

Females in Motorsport presents a comprehensive run-down of the F1 Academy weekend format, the progression of the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships, and what to expect in Austin.

The three championship contenders. From left to right: Hamda Al Qubaisi, Marta García, and Léna Bühler.

1. The F1 Academy weekend, explained

Friday hosts two 40-minute Free Practice sessions and two 15-minute Qualifying sessions (Qualifying 1 and Qualifying 2).

Qualifying 1 determines the starting grid for Race 1. The driver who takes pole position will earn two points. Race 2’s starting grid is determined by reversing the order of the top eight drivers.

Qualifying 2 determines the starting grid for Race 3. The driver who takes pole position will earn two points.

Saturday hosts Race 1 and Race 2.

Race 1 lasts for 30 minutes plus one lap. The top 10 drivers will be awarded 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 points respectively. If the driver who completed the fastest lap finished within the top 10, she will earn one point.

Race 2 lasts for 20 minutes plus one lap. The top 8 drivers will be awarded 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points respectively. If the driver who completed the fastest lap finishes within the top 10, she will earn one point.

Sunday hosts Race 3. The format follows that of Race 1.

F1 Academy's five teams and their drivers.

2. Our Summary of Rounds 1-6

Disclaimer: All information below has been provided by the post-qualifying and post-race reports, official standings, and news articles from the F1 Academy website, plus the F1 Academy Race Highlights on the official Formula One YouTube Channel. We recommend that you read through and watch F1 Academy's official resources for a complete understanding of the season.

Round 1: Spielberg, Red Bull Ring (27-28 April)

Marta García, winner of Races 1 and 3.

Qualifying: Heavy rain showers dominate. Pulling tops both sessions—only to be disqualified along with the two other Rodin Carlin cars over a technical breach.

So, a revised Qualifying 1 sees García take pole position; Bustamante comes second and Martí third. A. Al Qubaisi takes eighth. The top three remain unchanged for Qualifying 2, with García first, Bustamante second, and Martí third.

Race 1: De Heus and Lovinfosse make contact on Lap 1; De Heus, plus Bühler and Schreiner, veer off into the gravel, calling out the Safety Car. With the restart, Martí steals the lead from García; however, García promptly retakes it, and dominates to the finish line with an 8.083-second gap to Martí. Bustamante comes in third.

However, Martí is subsequently disqualified due to a technical breach, promoting Bustamante to second and Edgar to third.

Race 2: A. Al Qubaisi, who started from pole, leads from start to end. Bühler and Lovinfosse round out the podium in second and third, respectively.

Race 3: After starting seventh, H. Al Qubaisi makes her way up the field into second and launches an unexpected charge for leader García. Ultimately, García prevails by 0.346 seconds. A. Al Qubaisi secures third.

Standings: With two race wins, García scores 57 points and seizes the Drivers’ Championship lead by 27 points. A. Al Qubaisi holds a precarious second. PREMA Racing takes the Teams’ Championship lead with 83 points, 22 points ahead of MP Motorsport.

Round 2: Valencia, Circuit Ricardo Tormo (4-6 May)

Hamda Al Qubaisi becomes the third-ever F1 Academy race winner.

Qualifying: Track limit infringements delete lap time after time in both sessions. Qualifying 1 grants Martí pole position, ahead of H. Al Qubaisi and Grant. Bustamante takes eighth. In Qualifying 2, García beats Pulling and Martí to pole.

Race 1: H. Al Qubaisi goes into the lead at Turn 1 of Lap 1. She then clinches her first win by 7.163 seconds to Martí, who holds second. Numerous track limits violations force A. Al Qubaisi to bear two 5-second penalties and relinquish the final podium position to Bühler.

Race 2: On Lap 1, pole-sitter Bustamante keeps her lead—but De Heus and Schreiner make contact. Pulling gets caught in the crossfire and retires. The marshals assist De Heus in re-entering the track from the gravel; she is disqualified from the race as a result.

Nevertheless, Bustamante still leads from the restart on Lap 3 to the chequered flag; she holds off Bühler by 0.741 seconds. H. Al Qubaisi takes third.

Race 3: As pole-sitter García storms away in the lead, Martí leap-frogs Pulling on Lap 1 to secure second. On Lap 12, Lovinfosse and Grant make contact; Lovinfosse spins out. On the final lap, Chong and Gilkes collide. Ahead, however, García crosses the finish line in first, with Martí and Pulling in tow.

Standings: García maintains a championship lead of 26 points. H. Al Qubaisi and Martí pass A. Al Qubaisi to take second and third place, respectively. PREMA remains first in the teams’ standings, leading MP Motorsport by 28 points.

Round 3: Barcelona, Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya (18-20 May)

Lena Bühler earns her debut win with Race 3.

Qualifying: In Qualifying 1, De Heus is fastest, followed by Bühler and Pulling. Martí takes eighth. In Qualifying 2, Bühler takes her maiden pole from H. Al Qubaisi and García.

Race 1: Bühler overtakes De Heus for the lead on Lap 1. After climbing to and running in third, H. Al Qubaisi retires due to a technical issue. Another retirement comes on lap 14 with race leader Bühler, who suffers a gearbox issue. De Heus seizes the opportunity to take her first win. Pulling and García follow.

Race 2: A. Al Qubaisi, who started P2, makes an excellent getaway. She overtakes Martí for the lead, and holds onto it to claim her second-ever win. A technical issue forces Martí to slow down; García and Pulling pounce to push themselves past her and onto the podium.

Race 3: Leading from start to end, Bühler converts her pole into a win. H. Al Qubaisi and García finish in the positions they started: second and third, respectively.

Standings: García becomes the first driver to achieve three podiums in one weekend. With that, she finds a 41-point advantage to H. Al Qubaisi. Bühler passes Martí for third. Two wins enable MP Motorsport to overtake PREMA for first—but by just four points.

Round 4: Zandvoort, Zandvoort Circuit (22-24 June)

The Race 2 podium. From left to right: García (P2), Schreiner (P1), and Bühler (P3).

Qualifying: Qualifying 1 sees H. Al Qubaisi in first, Bühler in second, and Martí in third. A. Al Qubaisi takes eighth again. H. Al Qubaisi sets the fastest time in Qualifying 2 to make it a double pole. Bühler qualifies second for a double front-row start, while De Heus qualifies third.

Race 1: H. Al Qubaisi dominates to the win by 5 seconds. Bühler finishes second and Martí third. Championship leader García, who started fourth, retires on Lap 10 with a technical problem—her first DNF of the season.

Race 2: A. Al Qubaisi enjoys a brilliant start—but unfortunately hits the wall on Lap 2, and retires. Schreiner, who started second, promptly slots into first. She takes her maiden win, with García and Bühler completing the podium.

Race 3: From pole, H. Al Qubaisi holds and extends her lead. Further back on Lap 1, Gilkes retires after colliding with Lovinfosse. Lovinfosse then collides with Pulling on Lap 8, sending both into the gravel and retirement. De Heus takes second from Bühler with the Safety Car restart on Lap 12. H. Al Qubaisi and Bühler hold positions to grant MP Motorsport a 1-2 finish, while Bühler clinches the final podium spot.

Standings: García clings to her lead of 155 points—but only by 5 points to H. Al Qubaisi. Bühler remains third. On the other hand, MP Motorsport takes a far more comfortable 66-point lead to PREMA.

Round 5: Monza, Autodromo Nazionale Monza (6-8 July)

Bustamante takes a home win for PREMA with Race 3.

Qualifying: Overnight rain bestows the challenge of damp conditions upon drivers. In Qualifying 1, García claims pole, H. Al Qubaisi second, and Pulling third. A. Al Qubaisi takes eighth once more. In Qualifying 2, Pulling sets the fastest time, ahead of Bustamante and H. Al Qubaisi.

Race 1: On the opening lap, a massive shunt between Bustamante and Grant flips over the latter’s car, hurtling it off the track upside-down and on fire. Fortunately, Grant is later confirmed to have suffered no major injuries.

After the restart, a three-way fight for the lead between García, Bühler, and Pulling ensues. García crosses the finish line first, just ahead of Bühler—but only by 0.009 seconds. On the final lap, Edgar pips Pulling to third by 0.016 seconds.

Race 2: H. Al Qubaisi and Gilkes make contact on Lap 2—plunging H. Al Qubaisi down the grid and Gilkes into retirement later on—as do A. Al Qubaisi and Martí on Lap 3. García and De Heus collide on the final lap, sending the latter into the gravel and a last-minute retirement. Lovinfosse, too, falls victim to the retirement frenzy with a technical problem.

Amid this chaos, another multi-driver fight for the win—this time between Bühler, Schreiner, Bustamante, and Pulling—begins. However, Bühler perseveres to cross the finish line in first. Bustamante claims second and Pulling third.

Race 3: Bustamante nips past Pulling for the lead. H. Al Qubaisi then overtakes Pulling for second—but makes contact with Bustamante’s rear on Lap 8 and retires. On Lap 9, Gilkes and Lovinfosse make contact; Gilkes spins out of the race, bringing out the Safety Car. On the penultimate lap, Chong and Cáceres make contact. With the race ending under its second Safety Car, Bustamante snatches the win. Pulling and Martí round out the podium.

Standings: Despite both title contenders struggling this weekend, García increases the gap to H. Al Qubaisi to a more comfortable 36 points. Bühler remains in third—but only seven points to second. PREMA’s two wins decrease the gap to leading MP Motorsport to 26 points.

Round 6: Le Castellet, Circuit Paul Ricard (28-29 July)

García extends her lead—but it's not enough to win the title just yet.

Qualifying: Qualifying 1 is intensely close, with Pulling, Martí, and Lovinfosse—first, second, and third, respectively—separated by 0.057 seconds. A. Al Qubaisi comes eighth again. In Qualifying 2, Bühler clocks in first, with Pulling second and Lovinfosse third.

Race 1: Martí lunges past Pulling to take the lead at Turn 1 of Lap 1 and seize her very first win. Pulling follows in second, and Lovinfosse holds third to secure a home race podium.

Race 2: On Lap 1, García steals second from on A. Al Qubaisi, while Lovinfosse stops on track due to a technical issue. With the Safety Car restart on Lap 3, García then overtakes leader A. Al Qubaisi. Bühler then steals second from A. Al Qubaisi on Lap 4. García claims the win, Bühler second, and A. Al Qubaisi third.

Race 3: Again, García takes second from Pulling on Lap 1, and then the lead from Bühler on Lap 3, to end her weekend with a second win. Finishing behind Bühler, Lovinfosse takes third and two home podiums.

Standings: García retains her lead by 48 points. Bühler passes H. Al Qubaisi to settle into second place—but with only nine points to spare. Meanwhile, the gap between leader MP Motorsport and PREMA decreases to 23 points.

3. Why we’re excited for Austin—and why you should be, too

Despite leading the championship since Spielberg, García did not secure the 68-point lead needed to win the Drivers’ Championship in Le Castellet. That means that the title fight is still on—even as we move to this season’s final race in Austin.

Of course, García’s current 48-point lead gives her a considerable cushion from Bühler, who sits in second place, and H. Al Qubaisi, who lingers just 9 points behind Bühler. Plus, García’s remarkable consistency and PREMA’s ability to provide her with a car that delivers does establish her as the title favourite coming into Round 7. Even if either Bühler or H. Al Qubaisi manages a clean sweep of every race—so, scoring the maximum of 67 points per weekend— it’s likely that García could still convert her current lead into a championship win.

However, every session of every race weekend has been far from straightforward. Out of 15 drivers and five teams, nine drivers and four teams have won at least one race over the past six rounds. Eleven drivers and all five teams have stood on the podium at least once. While the top of the standings may not have seen significant change throughout the season, almost every race has enjoyed significant upheaval in its order throughout the laps.

In Austin—as in Spielberg, Valencia, Barcelona, Zandvoort, Monza, and Le Castellet—anything is possible. And the title fight is still on.

That rings especially true for the Teams’ Championship, which will be a close-contested battle between MP Motorsport and PREMA Racing. Note that a team can score a maximum of 148 points per weekend, and both teams remain separated by only 23 points. We may have to wait for the very end of Race 3 to know who the inaugural Teams’ Champion will be.

Though these championship battles need no further embellishment, the track makes for a thrilling spectacle on its own. At 5.513 km, COTA stands as the second-longest circuit of the season—second only to Round 5’s Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Plus, COTA’s 20 turns, plenty of overtaking opportunities, and infamous 40-metre elevation change from the starting line to Turn 1 will demand a great deal of precision, speed, and mental fortitude from drivers.

While we would have preferred the series to enjoy live coverage from its very first weekend, we are excited that at least this all-determining season finale will be broadcast to over 100 territories. As Round 7 will serve as a support race for Formula One’s ever-popular United States Grand Prix, we also hope that the attention of Formula One fans—both on and off the track—will garner F1 Academy the exposure and appreciation it deserves.

Below, we’ve included a complete list of F1 Academy broadcasters, as well as a timetable for each session of Round 7. Note that all timings are indicated in local time.

As you follow the sessions with your broadcaster of choice, make sure to keep an eye on our social channels. This year, Females in Motorsport will be on the track—and providing you all with exclusive live content throughout the entire weekend.

All images are credited to F1 Academy.


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