She is one of the youngest drivers on the W Series grid, but that doesn’t keep Nerea Marti from holding back. We spoke to her about the upcoming race at Spa-Francorchamps and her future in single-seaters.
By Norman Funk
Nerea Marti (19) started karting in 2015 at age nine. She competed in the Valencian and national karting championships. In all those years she felt accepted. “I never suffered any discrimination for being a girl competing against guys. We respected each other as drivers, but we had to earn that respect on track.”
Winning the Valencian karting championship back to back in 2017-18 earned her a step up into Spanish F4. After a solid but challenging rookie season she finished 16th scoring one podium, a second place in the first round. Marti: “The most challenging transition was the step up from karting to Formula 4. Getting used to the new car and performance was a big step and I had a lot to learn.”
She went on to participate in the W Series qualifiers and in the end got a call to be part of the W Series championship for 2020. “Unfortunately, covid made it impossible to compete in 2020 and so I raced in KZ karting in Spain to keep in form. But it was the same for all the drivers in the series, so we are practically on the same level”, she said when asked if the year off affected her performance.
W Series Academy
In June of this year, shortly before the season started, it was announced that Marti and Ira Sidorkova would be the first members of the new W Series Academy Team. This meant that the two young drivers were guaranteed fully-funded seats for two years.
The two formed the youngest driver pairing in the series. “It’s my first experience in F3 and we are constantly learning. The series supports us with this team, the costs for this season and next one, since we have a two-year contract.”
Marti doesn’t feel that the two are fierce rivals, and she feels the same way about the other drivers on the grid. “It is true, we (Sidorkova and Marti, ed.) are in the same team, but at the end of the day, everyone races for themselves and tries to get the best result possible. We get along well with all the girls in the paddock.”
It didn’t take the Spanish driver long to be successful; she consistently finished in the top ten and even made it to the podium in Hungary, the last round before the summer break. An impressive feat as a rookie that has never raced there. “I am very happy to have achieved that. It was a great feeling at a track I had never raced before.”
Marti currently holds third place in the driver standings after four rounds, preventing a British top three by holding the more experienced Sarah Moore behind by just one point. The gap two the leading pair of Jamie Chadwick and Alice Powell however seems too large to bridge.
But winning the championship is not the main goal in her rookie season, she says. “I feel no pressure to deliver results, since I am in my first year. The goal is to keep learning and improving race to race and get as much experience as possible.”
The W Series Championship calendar only sports eight races and there’s only one practice session, qualifying and one race; less than most junior formula series. For more track time drivers have to look elsewhere and that’s exactly what Marti is doing for 2022. “I would like to have more races for next year, so we are working to put together some options which would allow me to race alongside W Series in other competitions.”
Looking ahead to Spa-Francorchamps Marti is apprehensive about her chances. “It’s going to be difficult, because I start with a four-place grid penalty which I carry on from Hungary. So we will try to have the best qualifying possible and adjust our strategy to the result we can achieve.”
The forecast indicates there is a 90 percent chance of rain for this weekend, which would be another new experience for Marti, who has never raced in wet conditions before. But the 19-year-old is concentrating more on qualifying. “Depending on the result we manage to secure in qualifying, we will know if we are in a good position for the race.”
Click the banner below if you want to support F1 Feeder Series so it can continue to be great. This is our only stream of income so everything is welcome!