W Series racing driver Abbi Pulling speaks to Female First
W Series racing driver Abbi Pulling speaks to Female First

W Series racing driver Abbi Pulling is getting ready for 2022 season which gets underway from May 6, and despite only being 18 years old she’s got more experience than a lot of drivers on the series.

Pulling was bought a go kart at the age of eight and hasn’t looked back since and recently got to race around Silverstone circuit on a British Grand Prix weekend, something she’s dreamt about since being a child.

The Gosberton-born racing driver spoke to Female First about how she got into the sport, revealed how it feels to part of the Alpine F1 team and explained what it’s like to be a woman in motorsport.

How did you get into racing?

I got into racing from my dad actually, he did long endurance motorbikes, and I would always go along and watch him when I was little and from there it just kind of went on to okay when is my time to go? But instead of putting me on two wheels him put me on four and got me my own go kart at the age of eight. Since then, it’s kind of been non-stop, it’s gotten more serious and progressed and I’ve got to the point where I’m now at W Series and obviously now in the Alpine Academy and just trying to keep that momentum.

Do you think your youth gives you an edge over other drivers?

I don’t think I lack in experience; I’ve been competitive in the year and a half that I did in British F4 and there was a lot of challenges I faced that maybe other drivers haven’t even experienced yet, or maybe they have and more. I think I’ve got enough in my toolset to challenge for this year and get podiums. I don’t think it sets me apart but I think in some ways it helps and in some ways it’s a bit of a disadvantage, but I don’t like to see it as a disadvantage. I work with what I’ve got and do the best with what I’ve got.

Abbi Pulling here, with fellow drivers Jamie Chadwick and Emma Kimilainen
Abbi Pulling here, with fellow drivers Jamie Chadwick and Emma Kimilainen

What is it like to be a part of W Series?

Obviously I’ve only been a part of it for a short period of time but my short period of time I’ve done it’s been amazing to be a female figure for younger carters coming through and it’s amazing what the series is doing, the opportunities that it’s given me and other drivers. It’s amazing to be a part of such a, almost revolutionary, championship really, it’s one of a kind at the moment and it’s going to be a good kind of steppingstone for someone like myself to get the experience I need going up the ladder.

How was your debut race at Silverstone? Did it live up to the hype?

I would definitely say Silverstone lived up to the hype, it was my first time at the British Grand Prix, and I was on the support race so it was such an experience, I can’t even explain. For my dad as well, it was quite a proud moment to be able to see me going around the Silverstone circuit on an F1 weekend. It’s definitely a weekend that I’ll never forget and I’m really grateful for the opportunity in the 2021 season to be in front of my home crowd really and it was just as Covid was stopping, well easing down, and it was the first full number event for a very long time and the atmosphere around the paddock was insane. It was really good weather as well which was nice, just everything as a whole was awesome.

Abbi Pulling is currently gearing up for the 2022 season!
Abbi Pulling is currently gearing up for the 2022 season!

Have you ever felt like you’ve been treated differently as a woman in motorsport?

I’ve never really experienced a problem being a female, you get the odd comment, but it was never really the people that I was actually competing against, it was normally the dads not wanting their sons to be beaten by a girl. But it’s changed a lot more since then in a very positive way and especially when I moved up into different categories where the drivers were it’s not necessarily them and their dad but they’re on their own with their race team. But I think I’ve had quite a lot of respect in that sense, sometimes on track they’ll get their elbows out a bit more than they would with someone else, but you’ve just got to put your elbows out just as much and know that you’re there to compete and you’re there doing races and I’ve always made a point to prove that I’m not just there to make the numbers up.

You were recently signed by the Alpine F1 team, so how does it feel to be part of the Alpine Affiliate?

They saw something in me which I’m grateful for and they’ve took me on for this year and it’s amazing, they’ve got a pool of talent, they’ve got a really good program behind them and the support that they give is great. It’s amazing and I’m just kind of trying to keep my feet on the ground and keep my preparation just as good as it was before and more so now with their support. It’s great to finally let people know and I’m so excited.

Words by Lucy Roberts for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @Lucy_Roberts_72.

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