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Abbi Pulling: F1 Academy driver ‘honoured’ to be inspiring next generation of females in motorsport

Abbi Pulling is set to compete in the inaugural season of the F1 Academy; the 19-year-old Brit is part of Formula 1 team Alpine’s young driver programme; “When you put your helmet on and the visor’s down, we’re all just the same – that is something that younger girls need to know”

Last Updated: 08/03/23 4:37pm

Abbi Pulling will drive in the F1 Academy’s inaugural season

Alpine Academy driver Abbi Pulling says she is “honoured” to be inspiring the next generation of female drivers in motorsport as she prepares to compete in the F1 Academy’s inaugural season.  

The 19-year-old Brit, who recently became a fully-fledged member of Formula 1 team Alpine’s academy programme, is one of 15 drivers who will compete in the all-female F1 Academy, which gets under way in Austria next month.

Having scored two podiums in her first full W Series campaign last year, Pulling has the potential to be one of the stars of the new series, and is hoping her ties with Alpine can eventually lead to opportunities in F1.

Speaking to Sky Sports News on International Women’s Day, Pulling explained how she’s embracing being a role model for aspiring female drivers.

“I think it’s hugely important and I’m honoured to say that I’m inspiring younger females to getting into the sport,” she said.

“When I was in karting, there were two or three girls in the paddock altogether and now there are two or three in each class, bearing in mind there’s up to 10 classes sometimes nowadays.

“So there’s been a big jump, it still, I think can go more and more, but it’s only getting better and better and I never had that kind of female representation when I was younger, or not a whole lot of it.

“There were one or two, but there weren’t, you know, 5, 10, 20 girls in all these different things, but nowadays I think that there is more of that and I think that’s positive for karters.

“You’ve got to see it to believe it essentially, and I don’t think I had too much of that when I was little.

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Pulling features in the best moments from the 2022 W Series season

Pulling features in the best moments from the 2022 W Series season

“When you put your helmet on and the visor’s down, we’re all just the same. And I think that is something that younger girls, when they’re coming into the sport, they need to know that at the end of the day, we’re all the same and can be racing at the front, no matter our gender.”

Pulling, who began her karting career at the age of nine before advancing to British Formula 4, is equally keen to see more women taking up the many roles in motorsport outside of the cockpit.

Along with looking to bring through a new generation of female drivers through their academy, Alpine also last year launched the Rac(H)er programme, which is designed to promote inclusion in all areas of the industry.

Pulling spends time at F1 races with Alpine, and is confident that female participation is increasing in all areas of the sport.

“I think that the developments made, even in the last couple months, let alone the last 10 years, have been huge and it’s such a positive environment now for females in the sport and there’s so many different things encouraging us to keep going and to get into it, not even just as a racing driver,” she said.

“The Rac(H)er programme – it’s also based on engineers, or if you want to be a lawyer within the team, or do anything in the team – social media, being on the gearbox, a mechanic – it’s endless really, the different avenues you can go in motorsport, and I think that’s also an important thing to remember.

“I think it’s an all-round package, just more females being seen on their computer, being an engineer looking at the engine, even stewards and marshals – there’s a lot of female marshals coming into it and things that are being promoted like the F1 Academy give females a kind of platform to show to the younger generations or to other people that maybe didn’t understand or know much sport, that there is a way into it.”

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