Edgar ends F1 Academy season on exhilarating high
Jessica Edgar was one of four promising young British drivers who contested the inaugural F1 Academy in 2023.
The 18-year-old from Cumbria stepped up to the all-female championship having raced in karts since 2010 and then graduating to single-seaters, finishing a competitive seventh overall in the 2022 GB4 Championship.
Edgar’s first season in the F1 Academy has also been impressive. Racing for the Rodin Carlin team she ended the campaign on a real high with a maiden win in the final round on the F1 bill at Austin, Texas. When those points were added to three further podiums from earlier in the season, Jessica finished the year in a strong eighth place in the final standings and second among the UK quartet.
As we found out, she feels her career has taken another big step forwards in 2023.
Looking back on 2023, how do you think it went?
“I think it was a really good season and I’ve improved every time I’ve gone out. It was a bit of a struggle at the start of the year, not least as having grown up in English weather, I didn’t really how to set the car up for 30 degrees of heat! But, then as the year went on, we just got better and better as a team. We got the car more to suit my style and my driving improved. Then the last round at Austin was a really good weekend.”
How did it feel to end the season with that phenomenal win on the Grand Prix track in Austin?
“It was great. Qualifying isn’t usually my strongest part of the weekend, so it was a massive shock when I was fifth in the first session and then took pole in the second. Performing well in front of the F1 teams is obviously very important because they could decide your future. They can pick you up, put you on one of their junior programmes and decide just how far you can go.”
How beneficial was it to be with a team like Rodin Carlin which has so much experience?
“Being with Rodin Carlin – an English team – was really good. They encouraged me when I wasn’t quite on the pace early on; they were interested getting me quicker. The whole year they’ve been really supportive, and everyone gets the same treatment and the same opportunity. Everyone’s very professional and I really like being there.”
How helpful was it having another British driver [Abbi Pulling] in the same team? Being slightly more experienced having raced in British F4 and W Series, she must have been a good sounding block for you.
“It was really helpful as, being in single-seaters for longer, she could pass on her knowledge to me. She obviously knows how a car’s supposed to feel whereas I didn’t at the start of the year, so having her as a team has been beneficial.”
So what are your plans for the winter and next season?
“I’ll be prepping as well as I can for next year. Hopefully I’ll be back in F1 Academy again, that would be great.”
You have combined racing in F1 Academy with doing the Enhanced Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE) as offered by the Motorsport UK Academy in collaboration with Loughborough College. How has that gone?
“I did the programme for the last two years and finished in July. It was a good option for me because, if I had started sixth form in school, I just wouldn’t have had the time needed. Being only eight days a month I could also go racing. What’s more, learning about motorsport is more interesting as I was learning about something that I enjoy doing!”
You attended the launch of Motorsport UK’s ‘Discover Your Drive’ programme, which is run at TeamSport karting venues throughout the country. How important do you believe these kind of initiatives are in encouraging more young girls into kart racing, so they can potentially follow in your wheel-tracks up to F1 Academy?
“It’s really important because there were not many girls in karting when I was racing – there were only a couple of us. It’s good to see that more and more girls are coming into the sport, which is what this initiative is all about. It’s good to see that that’s actually working as well. With Discover your Drive and F1 Academy, it feels like there’s now a real movement to help young girls into the sport.”
Images courtesy of Formula 1 Academy Limited