Cáceres Demonstrates Impressive Potential in F1 Academy Testing

Guest blog by Thiemo Albers-Daly

F1 Academy’s first ever testing sessions have been completed. Split up over two venues – Barcelona and Paul Ricard – over the last two weeks with two days at each track, all fifteen drivers got their first taste of what it’s going to be like for them when they go racing at the end of this month at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

Among the fifteen drivers is the latest promising young talent to come out of South America: Maite Cáceres. Hailing from Uruguay, she competed in the US Formula 4 Championship last year after also testing for W Series at the beginning of 2022.

The first week of testing took place at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya with a total of 1,881 laps notched up between all of the drivers over those two days alone. Getting to grips with the new cars was the aim of the game and solid progress was made by Maite across the two days as she settled into her team for the season, Spanish outfit Campos.

Overall, we got good information from the tires and the car is quite different to F4. I’m feeling more confident now. The lack of experience plays against me but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to get there.”  – Maite Cáceres

The F1 Academy cars are significantly different to what Maite’s driven before. With aerodynamics that have been optimised to facilitate overtaking as well as having a wide range of suspension set up possibilities, the cars (designed by Tatuus Automobili) are fitted with an Autotecnica 4 cylinder turbo 1.4 litre engine that has a top speed of 149mph and can go from 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds.

I’m very happy with the progress made these two days. It’s the first time I’ve driven a car of this type! The adaptation was a little difficult on the first day but on the second, we found a good set up and built up the pace.”

Week two of testing took place at Le Castellet at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the South of France. Like Barcelona, testing here will prove to be beneficial to all drivers as it will host the penultimate round of F1 Academy in July of this year. Barcelona will host the third round of the season in May.

Once again, testing here was all about continuing to build a solid foundation and ensure that the drivers were confident in their ability behind the wheel. The first day of testing consisted of four sessions, two in the morning and two in the afternoon.

For Maite, the difference in performance from the first to the second session was nothing short of impressive. When comparing her best lap times from the first and second morning test sessions, she shaved the best part of two seconds off the former by the end of the latter.

Rain complicated matters in the afternoon but when conditions had dried for the final session of the day, Maite had taken another 1.3 seconds out of her best lap time from the second morning session.

“It went well. I am happy with the progress I made with the team. The first session is to get to know the track with my inexperience at these circuits but I feel that I’m improving in the first approach. At the end of the day, we were competitive and we are happy with how everything’s going.” – Maite Cáceres

The final day of testing had just the three sessions but saw Maite pick up from where she left off the previous afternoon. Following the first session, she’d gone another three hundredths of a second quicker than her best time the day before and was just over 1 second behind Marta Garcia who claimed P1 in the session. Consistency was key in the second session as Maite notched in similar lap times and she rounded out the third session of that day’s testing by notching up another 18 laps around Le Castellet – having completed a total of 106 laps across the entire two days.

“Still we have room to improve, that for me is very good. I’m working hard with my engineer to get the most out of these tests and to understand how the car works with the Pirelli tyre. I’m enjoying this challenge, and tasting how everything works here in Europe!” – Maite Cáceres

As with Formulas 1, 2 and 3, it can be hard to know what to take away from testing sessions sometimes. The F1 Academy field is mixed full of drivers with a vast array of experience and the spread between them so far in lap times is a lot closer than perhaps many of us watching would have thought. Maite also has two strong teammates alongside her at Campos in former W Series driver Nerea Marti (who claimed Pole Position in Miami last year to go along with her three podiums in the series) and Lola Lovinfosse who competed in both Spanish F4 and the Indian Racing League in 2022.

Knowing Maite, she’ll relish the challenge of having this duo in her team to learn from and compete against to go along with the task of continually improving in this new racing series. With her vast improvements over the two weeks of testing though, it seems that Maite is more than capable of embracing this endeavour and will throw everything she has at it – a mouth watering prospect for fans and a reassuring sign for Campos that she’ll go above and beyond to deliver for them – and for Uruguay.

F1 Academy commences on the 28th and 29th April at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.


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