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F1 Academy: Formula 1's increased presence in 2024 season will accelerate female driver development, says Abbi Pulling

Britain's Abbi Pulling tells Sky Sports News that drivers in the all-female F1 Academy will benefit from being "in front of F1 teams and are showing what they can do on a world stage" in 2024; F1 Academy's second season runs on the Formula 1 weekend bill next year

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The all-female F1 Academy series will run during F1 Grand Prix weekends in 2024, but questions remain over how long it will take to see a female driver on the F1 grid.

F1 Academy driver Abbi Pulling believes the increased pressure that will come with the series being more closely associated with Formula 1 teams next year will only be a long-term benefit, with the grid racing "in front of the right people" and a global audience in 2024.

Speaking to Sky Sports News at an event held at the Silverstone museum, which through October has given free admission to girls aged 18 and under in a bid to inspire future careers in the motorsport industry under the tagline #GirlsWill, Pulling discussed the advantages that Formula 1's increased presence in the series will bring.

All seven rounds of F1 Academy's 2024 season will run on the Grand Prix weekend support bill, while the 10 F1 teams will each enter one affiliated driver in their respective team colours.

Image: Abbi Pulling celebrates her second-place finish in Race One at the US GP with winner and series champion Marta García

Pulling, who is a member of the Alpine Academy for young drivers, raced for Rodin Carlin in the inaugural season of F1 Academy this year, finishing fifth in the standings with seven podium finishes.

"It was a big thing this year even being with Rodin Carlin, a team that goes all the way up to F2, and the same with Prema and ART and so on," she said.

"But to have the F1 teams now involved is even bigger.

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Lewis Hamilton was down at the track to congratulate newly crowned F1 Academy champion Marta Garcia

"It's going to be a lot of pressure for the drivers of course, but it will help them also mature a lot quicker, become well-rounded drivers a lot quicker, and develop.

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"They are in front of the right people, I think that's the main thing.

"They are all in front of F1 teams and are showing what they can do on a world stage."

Increasing female involvement in all areas of motor racing, both on and off track, is a major goal of F1 and the governing body of world motorsport, the FIA.

In terms of drivers, F1 has not had a female compete in a race since Italy's Lella Lombardi in 1976.

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Highlights of race three from the seventh round of the F1 Academy series in Austin where 18-year-old Jessica Edgar became the first Briton to win a race in the inaugural series.

Stephanie Carlin, deputy team principal at the Rodin Carlin outfit who is team boss for their F1 Academy entry, said: "Everybody always has an opinion about Formula 1 drivers and who's signed to each team and who competes, but we have to remember there's more astronauts than there are Formula 1 drivers.

"Everyone is always going to have a very strong opinion on it. The fact of the matter is there aren't any female Formula 1 drivers and, whether you agree with it or not, or the candidate or not, or the level of experience, we need to make that jump in putting a woman into Formula 1.

"It's not going to be the work of a moment but to have an organisation that's committed to that vision I think is really important."

F1 is in Mexico for the middle leg of the Americas triple header. Watch the whole Mexico City Grand Prix weekend live on Sky Sports F1 from Friday, with Sunday's race at 8pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW