FIRST-TIME F4 RACE WINNERS SHINE ON F1 STAGE IN ABU DHABI
First-time F4 race winners Amna Al Qubaisi and Alex Connor shared the spoils at the F4UAE Championship’s Trophy Round this weekend, as the category made its debut as a support to the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (November 28-December 1, 2019).
Having already made motorsport history for the region with four women competing at the season-opening round at Yas Marina Circuit - with drivers including Emirati sisters Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi, Logan Hannah from Scotland and Reema Juffali from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Abu Dhabi Racing’s Amna Al Qubaisi also added to the history books, not only claiming pole position on Friday but becoming the first Emirati woman to win an FIA single seater race as she claimed victory on Saturday.
Alex Connor – who finished runner-up in the British F4 Rookie Cup – claimed his first single-seater win on Sunday with Xcel Motorsport; the team he started his karting career with in Dubai as a junior.
“The F4UAE Championship has provided competitive and entertaining racing this weekend, showing those involved in global motorsport organisations that it is one of the best platforms for young drivers to prove their talent,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO), and FIA Vice President for Sport.
“Well done to Amna Al Qubaisi who has come a long way since karting and winning the first FIA GCC Young Drivers Academy to now win in F4. I’m proud of her achievements and for being very successful in front of everyone at the Formula 1 grand finale. We believe she is a future international champion in the making.”
Thirteen drivers from 12 countries were entered for the Trophy Round, with Amna Al Qubaisi (#88) and her sister Hamda giving the local fans at Yas Marina Circuit plenty to cheer for. As the UAE’s first female racing driver, 19-year-old Amna claimed pole in qualifying, while also previously leading a curtailed morning practice session. Sister Hamda (#77) was second fastest in practice and fifth in qualifying.
As the more experienced of the pair, Amna posted a 2m12.717s lap to lead a trio of Xcel Motorsport drivers in Nicola Marinangeli (#14), Tijmen van der Helm (#13) – who was later relegated down to sixth place on the Race 1 grid after failing to follow the Race Director's instructions post-qualifying – and Alex Connor (#27) third.
RACE 1 SUMMARY
Amna Al Qubaisi led from pole position to the chequered flag in Race 1, holding off an early challenge from Marinangeli before pulling away to take victory in the first 25-minute race of the weekend.
Dutchman Tijmen van der Helm held off his rivals but on the final lap suffered a suspension failure, promoting Alex Connor onto the podium for Xcel Motorsport; the current reigning teams, driver and rookie champions.
Jordan’s Manaf Hijjawi (#99) for Dragon Racing dropped down to eighth from sixth on the grid, but made a strong campaign of overtaking to eventually claim fourth, ahead of the younger Al Qubaisi sister Hamda in fifth place for Abu Dhabi Racing. Returning F4UAE racer Nico Göhler (#2) finished sixth for Mücke Motorsport, while Xcel Motorsport's Ivan Peklin (#23) suffered a clutch failure on the start and did not join the race.
"I am very proud to be the first Emirati and Arab driver on podium of Formula 4,” said Al Qubaisi. “I thank my family and all the supporters. It's an amazing feeling, to do it in my home town and at my home track. I have a lot of my local people watching. It was huge honour.”
Khaled Al Qubaisi, father of Amna and Hamda, said: “I am extremely proud of my daughters, they made the whole UAE proud today, and that’s all what we wanted — to raise the UAE flag up high in this extremely important event held in our beloved country.”
RACE 2 SUMMARY
Amna Al Qubaisi's chances of back-to-back victories in F4UAE came to a close on Sunday after a crash with fellow rival Marinangeli on the first lap of Race 2. The Abu Dhabi Racing driver initiated an overtaking move, resulting in a race-ending impact that tore off the right-rear wheel from the #88 Tatuus racer. Marinangeli continued, but the crash forced him out of contention, leaving him with a DNF.
Leading the push for a strong Xcel Motorsport finish was Connor, who was pursued by Hijjawi; the Jordanian eventually denying Xcel Motorsport a one-two finish after he finished second in his first F4 race weekend. Tijmen Van Der Helm challenged for a third place and finished nearly five seconds behind Hijjawi.
Hamda Al Qubaisi also succumbed to front-end damage, breaking her front splitter when making close contact with a competitor, ending the race as the final qualified finsher in 11th. Göhler held on to finish fourth ahead of Rodrigo Almeida (#4) in fifth and Saudi Arabia’s Reema Juffali (#18) in sixth; her best ever result in single-seaters after campaigning a season already in British F4 for 2019.
Xcel Motorsport drivers Ivan Peklin and Mehrbod Shameli (#8) followed in seventh and eighth with Logan Hannah (#9) and rookie Constantin Reisch (#52) completing the top 10.
F4UAE has been instrumental in developing young driver talent over the last three seasons, with 46 different drivers from 32 countries competing since inception, and another nine new drivers being added to the list this weekend.
The F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth begins its point-scoring championship season in January, as a support to the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai; the first event of a five-round season based within the United Arab Emirates.
DUBAI kartDROME GRADUATES RACING ON F1 STAGE
While all eyes are on the F4UAE Championship at Yas Marina Circuit – the home of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abi Dhabi Grand Prix – the Dubai Kartdrome in the neighbouring emirate Dubai has played an instrumental role in the development of many drivers who are competing in the category’s season-opening Trophy Round this weekend.
Seven of the 13 drivers racing in front of the F1 crowd cut their teeth at the Kartdrome, through various junior initiatives and highly contested karting championships, which have enabled them to learn the necessary racing skillset to step up to open-wheelers, including F4UAE.
The seven drivers include Alex Connor, Logan Hannah and Constantine Resich who all started in the Emirates Schools and SWS leisure karting, plus Manaf Hijjawi, Mehrbod Shameli and Emirati sisters Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi; Amna of which claimed pole position in Friday qualifying and the Rqace 1 win on Saturday to become the first Emirati to do so in open-wheelers.
“It’s really satisfying to see that seven drivers are all regulars here at the Kartdrome so the transition from grass-roots karting to cars here in the UAE is starting to be successful,” said Dubai Kartdrome manager, David Bright.
“Who would have thought that I actually passed five of them for their FIA/CIK kart license tests back when they were much younger, so we’re all thrilled to see their progression and really pleased for Amna getting pole position and the win. She was recently on the podium here at the Kartdrome last month in the IAME shifter category, she’s a real talent.
“Most of these drivers started their career here through our grassroots initiatives such as our monthly SODI World Series leisure kart racing or the Emirates Schools karting championship, before gathering experience to compete in the most prestigious karting event in the Middle East, the Dubai O Plate. Everyone at the Kartdrome will be cheering them on when they race for the first time in front of F1 this weekend, and we hope that it opens doors for the progression of their racing careers."
F4UAE SET TO MAKE HISTORY AS FOUR WOMEN CONTEST F1 SUPPORT ROUND
The F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth, based in the United Arab Emirates, will make motorsport history this week as four women prepare to compete at the season-opening Trophy Round at Yas Marina Circuit (November 28-December 1).
Not only a first for circuit racing in the region, but three of the four women are GCC nationals from both the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; another first for motorsport in the Middle East and one that is understood to not have been replicated before in open-wheeler circuit racing.
The young women include open-wheeler racers Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi from the UAE – the daughters of Khaled Al Qubaisi, a multiple winner of the Dubai 24 Hours – former British F4 racer and TRD 86 Cup UAE winner Reema Juffali from KSA, and former F4UAE racer Logan Hannah from Scotland.
Considered one of the most important additions to the UAE’s local motorsport calendar back in 2016, F4UAE has been instrumental in developing young driver talent over the last three seasons, with 46 different drivers from 32 countries competing since inception. However, only one has been a woman to date, 18-year-old Hannah who returns for a one-off entry this season.
All four will grid up for the category’s first appearance as a support event to the Formula 1® Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this week at Yas Marina Circuit, marking a step forward for motorsport in the region that is welcomed by all members of the sporting community.
“The F4UAE Championship has grown to be one of the best platforms for new talented drivers to expand their careers, and we are very proud that it now has four women willing to be a part of this historical event supporting the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO), and FIA Vice President for Sport.
“The UAE has a long history of motorsport success that is recognised around the world, and we are proud to lead the way in giving every driver the opportunity to be a successful racing driver no matter if they are male or female. It’s very exciting to have the women part of the championship and we wish them a lot of success.”
Category technical director, Craig Thompson, says the women should be given credit for earning their place on the grid: “Formula 4 racing is an entry level category and there can be a misconception that they are easy to race without needing any experience, but you do need racing miles under your belt to have any chance of keeping up with the field. F4 sets the benchmark for developing young drivers into future Formula 1 stars.
“Drivers that come to F4UAE are usually karting champions with international experience, and these young women have done a great job in earning credibility through karting and open-wheelers in Europe, the UK and the UAE to be prepared for racing in front of a huge F1 crowd. We really do wish them every success,” Thompson concluded.
Category communications manager Filippa Guarna – a 20-year motorsport media veteran and a longtime champion for the increased participation of women in the sport – says the four women racing in F4UAE send a positive message to other women and young girls who want to be part of such an exciting industry.
“The UAE has such a strong karting community and you’d be surprised how many are girls and young women, so it’s great that the industry here is embracing these efforts and encouraging them to keep pushing their skills to move up through the competition ranks," said Guarna. "Amna, Hamda, Reema and Logan have a solid mix of experience already, and even though racing in front of the most prestigious championship in the world – Formula 1 – will be daunting, we know they’ll be completely focused on the job. To have them make history at F4UAE’s Trophy Round is truly something we’re all proud to be a part of and here to support them next weekend."
The F4UAE Trophy Round will be run as a support to the Formula 1® Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, UAE, from November 28 to December 1, 2019.
Photo Credist: Joan Codina FotoFormulaK
AMNA AL QUBAISI (UAE): A former karting champion, Amna Al Qubaisi this year competed in her second season of the Italian F4 Championship, where she claimed 10 top-20 finishes and a best result of 12th at Adria in 2018, and seven top-20 finishes and a best result of 13th at Mugello this year. Her long list of accolades includes becoming the first female to win both the UAE RMC Champion karting title in 2016 and the GCC Drivers Academy Competition in 2017. She was also the first Middle Eastern woman to take part in a motorsport test program for Formula E after the 2018 Ad Diriyah ePrix event in Saudi Arabia.
HAMDA AL QUBAISI (UAE):
Hamda Al Qubaisi started karting in 2015 and was the first Emirati to be invited to the FIA-sponsored CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy in 2016. She’s finished 3rd place in the IAME X30 championship and most recently made her F4 debut in Austria at the Red Bull Ring this past July as part of the Italian F4 Championship (she contested two rounds this season).Photo Credit: Joan Codina FotoFormulaK
REEMA JUFFALI (KSA):
Reema Juffali began her first season of racing only in October 2018 in the TRD 86 Cup UAE with Dragon Racing – the same team which won the 2017/2018 F4UAE Drivers and Teams Champions titles. The talented Saudi racer scored seven class wins, four overall podium finishes and won the 45-minute feature race supporting the 2018 Gulf 12 Hours AT Yas Marina Circuit. In 2019, she took a leap of faith overseas and embarked on the British F4 Championship for Double-R Racing, where she finished 13th outright with 10 top-10 finishes. Reema will contest the 2019 F4UAE Trophy Round with Dragon Racing.JUFFALI ANNOUNCEMENT NEWS STORY & QUOTES: http://bitly.com/JuffaliF4UAE2019
LOGAN HANNAH (SCT):
Having started competing in karting aged 11, Logan is the only female to start a race in F4UAE to date, having debuted in the 2017/2018 F4UAE season where she raced Round 1 at Yas Marina Circuit. A member of the Arden-linked Young Racing Drivers Academy for the past six years, she has extensive karting experience in the UAE and overseas, as well as in Ginetta Juniors. In 2019, she raced in the Scottish FF1600 championship, scoring three podiums and a 4th place in the drivers’ championship. Most recently she raced in the Formula Ford Festival, plus the Walter Hayes Trophy (at Silverstone) making it to the final and placing 21st out of 107 drivers on her first full season. Logan has also been named the Scottish Motor Racing Club's female racer of the year for 2019.HANNAH ANNOUNCEMENT NEWS STORY & QUOTES: http://bitly.com/LoganHannah2019F4UAE