Jess Edgar on F1 Academy podium during debut weekend

Jess Edgar got her 2023 season off to a promising start at the Red Bull Ring in Austria for the inaugural weekend of the F1 Academy on the 28 & 29 April, taking a podium finish in the opening race.

The 18-year-old Cumbrian showed here speed by qualifying third and fifth but unfortunately, along with her Rodin Carlin teammates, was excluded from proceedings due to an unintentional technical infringement when a non-homologated part was used on the floor of the cars.

Undeterred and starting from the back of the grid, Jess did well to avoid the opening lap melee which eliminated three cars at the second corner. Seizing the opportunity, she stuck to the inside line and passed three further cars just before the Safety Car was called.

When racing resumed, she joined a four-car battle for the final podium spot. Pulling alongside Bianca Bustamanti on the exit of turn two, it them became a drag race to the line with Jess just losing out to finish fourth, which later became third after Nerea Marti was disqualified for a technical infringement.

Having to start the remaining two races from the back of the grid Jess put in two solid performances to keep out of trouble and pick off her rivals, finishing 11th and 8th respectively, leaving her fifth in the overall standings after the first three races.

The second weekend of the series took place at the Valencia circuit on the east coast of Spain. Confronted with another new track, Jess impressed during the first qualifying session, where she was the quickest for the Robin Carlin drivers to secured fifth on the grid. She went one better in the second session to line up on the second row in fourth for race three.

Whilst the one lap pace of the Rodin Carlin was strong Jess lost out in race speed and, after dropping back at the start of race one, was unable to make much progress and finished in ninth. She made up for it with a solid start to hold position at the start of the second contest, but once again lacked the outright pace to battle her rivals and finished in ninth.

It was another good start in race three but made contact with Chloe Grant exiting turn one, damaging the front wing, which necessitated a pit stop for a new nose. Fortunately, an incident between Grant and Lola Lovinfosse required the Safety Car to be deployed, bunching up the pack. This brought Jess back into the race, where she kept up the pressure, and with Grant being handed a time penalty and Chong and teammate Megan Gilkes coming together, was able to move into a points paying position in ninth.

Attention now turns to rounds seven, eight and nine at Barcelona on the 20th & 21st May, where Jess will be working to return to the podium.

Jess Commented, “The first round at Red Bull Ring went well with a P5 and P3 in qualifying. Unfortunately, we got disqualified for a non-performance part which put us on the back foot for race one, but I raced well, coming through the pack from P12 up to P3 for my first podium, which I was really happy with.

“Race two was a bit tougher and I only managing to make up one place. The final race was better, and I move from P13 to P8, so, overall, it was a really good first weekend in FI Academy.

“Round two in Valencia was very tough for us. We struggled for pace which then made the racing quite hard. I could only manage a P5 and P4 in qualifying, which, bearing in mind where we were with the car, was still ok.

“During the races we struggled with setup to keep the tyres on for the whole race. I had a bad start to race one, losing places at the start and ended up finishing P9. I improved my starts a lot by the second race but still only managing P9. Then in race three I had a collision on the first lap which caused wing damage. I was then lucky with a Safety Car, which meant I could catch back up again after a pit-stop and made up a few places into P9. Overall, Valencia was a tough weekend as our pace not where it needed to be and quite frustrating after Red Bull Ring. We know we can do it through, and the pace is there so I’m looking forward to Barcelona.”