Martí scores maiden F1 Academy win. Lovinfosse achieves double podium at home round

The Spaniard driver claimed his first win of the season at Paul Ricard. Local favorite Lovinfosse secured two rostrums on home soil with Uruguayan Cáceres adding more points to her tally

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Mercantile Campos Racing completed a sensational sixth round of the 2023 F1 Academy season at Paul Ricard with all the three drivers of the Alzira-based racing team setting very competitive pace over the weekend. Spaniard Nerea Martí secured her first triumph in the all-female series with Frenchwoman Lovinfosse making her comeback on the podium at home. Uruguayan Maite Cáceres also matched her previous season’s high result in Le Castellet.

After free practice sessions in which Martí and Lovinfosse already proved to be contenders for the pole positions, both drivers of Mercantile Campos Racing later shone in both qualifying sessions, which took place on Saturday. In Q1, Martí posted the 2nd-fastest lap with a time of 1m27.281s, a mere 32 thousandths of a second off the pole time. Lovinfosse put together a lap of 1m27.306s, which was 3rd-fastest qualifying effort for race 1. Cáceres also made it into the top-ten with a lap time of 1m27.543s in her Mercantile Campos Racing-run Tatuus machinery. The positive outcome continued in Q2 with Lovinfosse as the fastest driver of Mercantile Campos Racing. The Frenchwoman qualified in third place with a lap time of 1m27.057s. Martí took the fifth spot on the starting grid with her lap time of 1m27.137s. Cáceres set a time of 1m27.510s and lined up 13th on the grid.

An action-packed Sunday kicked off very early in the morning with Race 1 consisting of 18 laps. When the lights went out, Martí made a sensational start to move past Abbi Pulling for the lead. The Spaniard immediately pulled away lapping in 1m26sand built a 2-second lead on Pulling. Despite the Briton driver made a late charge, Martí crossed the finish line in first place to secure her maiden win in the series. Lovinfosse’s performance wasn’t less remarkable as she kept Lena Bühler at bay for most of the race. Finally, the Frenchwoman was third at the checkered flag. Cáceres enjoyed a clean race and swept past two other drivers to finish in 8th place.

Race 2, consisting of 11 laps, was pretty close as well. Unfortunately, Lovinfosse couldn’t remain in fight for another podium as her car stopped on track and it brought the SC out. Martí, who had started from seventh, gained two places and finished in the top-five to secure valuable points for the championship. Further adrift, Cáceres made it to the finish in 12th place.

The French venue came to an end with Race 3. Lovinfosse fended off her rivals at the start and she was running in third place after the first lap. Similarly, Martí was 5th in the standings with all the drivers running nose-to-tail. It was a very strategic race to the checkered flag with Lovinfosse keeping Pulling at bay for most of the 18 laps. At the end, the driver of Mercantile Campos Racing crossed the finish line in third place, giving the team its third rostrum on French soil. Martí finished in 4th place after putting another solid, faultless performance. Cáceres made her way through the field to finish in 11th place.

With just one round to go, Martí sits fourth in the drivers’ standings on 157 points. Lovinfosse moves up to tenth on 63 points. Mercantile Campos Racing is P5 in the teams’ standings.

After the summer break, the season finale will take place at the Circuit of the Americas on 21-22 October, in the frame of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix.