20-year-old Marta García began racing at the age of ten. After impressing, she soon started competing nationally before entering international karting championships such as WSK (World Series Karting) Cup and the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy, with the young driver winning the latter in 2015. The following year, Marta made her car racing debut in the Spanish F4 Championship, finishing eighth in 2016 and ninth in 2017. After struggling with funding and finding sponsors, she thought her racing may come to an end, however a ground-breaking new championship provided her an opportunity to continue, as she entered the inaugural season of W Series. 2021 sees her return to the series for its second season so I spoke to her ahead of W Series’ return.
Going into the first season, Marta knew that she had a lot to learn, however still set herself the aim of being towards the front of the grid. “My target was to finish in the top five,” she said. “I was not expecting to win the championship as it was a learning year. If it was better than top five, that would obviously be really good. I was third until the last race at Brands Hatch where I struggled quite a bit, so finished fourth in the end. I was quite happy because it was better than my target.” With experience in karting and F4, making the transition to F3 wasn’t always easy, however Marta found that the previous step from karting to formula cars was more difficult. “I raced in karting for seven years and then jumped into F4 for a year and a half. The F4 and F3 car have the same chassis so the behaviour of the car is quite similar. The F3 car has more aerodynamics so is more ‘grippy’ which I like because it gives you more confidence through the fast corners. There is a bit of a difference, but not that much so I adapted quite fast. When I jumped from karting to single seaters it was a bigger step. In the formula car the technique is not the same as in karting, so all of that has to be learned again, so I think that was more difficult,” she explained.
Despite having had less single seater experience than some of her competitors, Marta finished the first W Series race in Hockenheim on the podium, with a third-place finish. “It was the first race so I thought, ‘let’s just see how it goes’. In the testing we did at Lausitzring, I had gone quite well, but when the season starts, everything is different. Being third in my first race helped me to have more confidence in myself, and be fast,” she told me. This gain in confidence showed as she took pole and victory in the fourth race of the season at Norisring. “It was a great race and my first win in single seaters so it was an amazing feeling. When I crossed the finish line, I remembered all the work I have been doing since I started racing and it felt like everything was paying off,” Marta said.
Reflecting on the 2019 season, overall, the Spaniard was happy, though once the racing finished, she was quick to analyse her performance and where she could improve. “Even though I was doing quite well in the first races, in the last two, in Assen and Brands Hatch, I struggled more. I tried to analyse it after the season finished and see where I was struggling and I think it was the faster tracks. This is what I have tried to work on, having more confidence in the fast corners and think I have now improved on my weak points,” she described. Having finished in the top 12 in the championship standings, Marta automatically secured a place for the 2020 season, however due to the pandemic, this was postponed. Nevertheless, there was still racing as W Series launched their esports league. Speaking of how virtual racing compares to being on track, she said: “they are quite different because one thing is real where you feel everything in the car, you feel when it slides, where there’s grip and where the limit is. These feelings aren’t as strong when you’re not in the car. If you train quite a lot and are really into it, it can help, but they are very different. I enjoy doing esports, it’s fun to practise racing.”
Ahead of the start of the 2021 season, Marta focussed on preparing herself to ensure she is in the best place to be successful after a year away. “For this year, I’m preparing myself physically a lot. I was testing in Anglesey for three or four days and held myself quite well physically so I think having three sessions, one free practice, one qualifying and one race of 30 minutes, I’m going to be able to give my full capacity in the racing. For the race and track preparations, I will use the simulator at my house. I have the Logitech and the Fanatec ‘sims’ which will help me to learn the tracks and the reference points, and also I will watch videos from F1 for tracks like the Red Bull Ring to help me to prepare a little more for the season,” she told me. As Marta mentioned, W Series’ pre-season test took place in Anglesey, Wales, as many of the drivers got back into a racing car for the first time since testing for the 2020 season. Although she had done a short test outside of the series at Circuit Paul Ricard in preparation, Marta still had to find her feet back in the W Series Tatuus T-318 F3. “It felt really good to be back in the car and have that feeling again,” she explained. “I thought because it had been a year I might struggle to adapt again, but actually it was ok. I had to get familiarised with the car but I was happy.”
With her aim for the previous season of finishing in the top five achieved, with a new year comes new goals, and for 2021, Marta is aiming high. “My target this year is to do my best and be fighting for the championship,” she said. “I want to win and I know it will be difficult because there is a lot of competition and good drivers, with maybe five or six fighting for the championship. It’s not going to be easy!”
Although this is just the second season, W Series will take another huge step forward as it shares the track with Formula One. Earlier this year it was announced that a partnership between F1 and W Series had been formed meaning eight Grands Prix weekends will also host the all-female championship. Marta, like all of the drivers, is excited about the opportunity to race on one of the biggest platforms in motorsport. “For me, it’s really good because it will give us a lot of visibility. I think this will help us too because if we are good, we can find sponsors and F1 teams can see us. Also, just being in the F1 paddock will be really nice and being with F1 drivers like Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, I hope they can give us some tips, that would be cool,” the Spaniard told me. Travelling to seven tracks around the world, W Series will compete on some of the most iconic circuits in motorsport, and there are two in particular that Marta can’t wait to race on. “I’m looking forward to Mexico, I love Mexico City! I went there a long time ago on holiday. Also, Spa is an amazing track so I’m looking forward to those two,” she added.
W Series’ creation came just at the right time for the young driver as she had begun considering whether racing was a viable option, following her struggles with finding the necessary funds. As a free-to-enter championship, it is providing 18 female drivers the chance to compete on a world stage, irrelevant of how much financial backing they may have. Speaking about this, Marta said: “being in W Series has been an opportunity to keep racing. I was going to stop in 2018 because I didn’t have the budget to do it anymore. Thanks to W Series, I am racing now! It’s a unique championship and they are doing a really good job.” Though it’s not just her career with which competing in the series has helped, with Marta also gaining more confidence in herself outside of motorsport. “I am more independent now, I think I’ve always been an independent person, but now I fly to other countries by myself, I am learning English better and some other languages,” she said.
With the second season of W Series underway, Marta García is preparing herself to fight for the championship after an impressive debut two years ago. At 20-years-old, she is one of the youngest drivers in the series, but her youth doesn’t mean she should be underestimated. Speaking of her advice for other young people wanting to get involved in the sport, she advised: “if you really like it and want to do it, then do it, but it’s hard work and you have to make sacrifices to get where you want to go.”
You can also read more about Marta’s racing before W Series here.
Photo credits: W Series