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A step forward for Hamda Al Qubaisi on Friday in rainy Imola

More steps forward for Hamda Al Qubaisi in Imola's penultimate round of Italian F4: despite a spin in the second practice, the Emirati racer made more progress in the very challenging wet conditions.


Photo credits: racers-behindthehelmet.com

One month from the previous round at Monza - where Hamda Al Qubaisi had her best ever finish in the series - the Italian F4 championship hit the track at Imola for its penultimate round of 2020.


Under heavy rain in the morning practice session and in still very tricky mixed-conditions in FP2, Hamda was P25 and P26 out of a huge 34-cars grid.


With all the European F4 championships coming to an end in the recent weeks, in fact, the Italian championship’s final races at Imola and Vallelunga will likely see many new additions and top drivers.


The morning’s session was topped by Jak Crawford (Van Amersfoort Racing), who set a fastest lap of 2:01.472 and marginally edged Gabriele Minì for Prema Powerteam, just 0.055 seconds behind.

Coming from the German F4 series, Kirill Smal was third fastest in the SMP-sponsored Prema car and preceded Josh Durksen (BWT Mucke) and Pizzi (Van Amersfoort).


In the second 30-minute session, Minì led an Italian 1-2-3, ahead of Francesco Pizzi and Andrea Rosso. German F4 champion Jonny Edgar was fourth, with the top-4 of the field divided by less than two tenths of a second.


Both the sessions were interrupted by several red flags and Full Course Yellows due to the many off-tracks - among them it was Gabriel Bortoleto, whose stoppage ended FP2 prematurely.


Despite the difficult conditions, Emirati’s top racer Hamda Al Qubaisi showed visible progress in the afternoon but had to sat out the second part of the session after she went off in the gravel.


“Not a a bad day” - she commented. “In the first free practice it was raining a lot again, almost the same conditions as Mugello. But on this track it’s completely different, the tyres feel different, so it’s different than Mugello. Lap by lap I was getting better and improving, so I think that’s all that matters.”


“There were a few red flags and Full Course Yellows during the sessions, so I didn’t get a lot of time on track. But overall I think it was ok, P25 and then in the second free practice I wasn’t too bad in the beginning; I was around P12 but then I had a big mistake while I was pushing into sector 1 and I ended up in the gravel so I couldn’t continue and the track got better at the end when I wasn’t driving.”


“I think it’s a good step forward. We were on slicks and it was still wet and dry: the first part of the track was dry and then the second one was completely wet, so conditions were a bit crazy. But I checked the weather forecast for tomorrow and I think it’s gonna be dry, so that’s better!”

“It was just a small spin through the gravel, I wanted to restart but I had a problem with the gearbox and couldn’t rejoin.”


Imola had already previously hosted a round of the Italian F4 back in August, with the youngest of the Al Qubaisi sisters proving good speed and ultimately finishing P11 in the third race.

“I love the track: we had the second round here, so to come back again is really nice.”


The qualifying session will go green tomorrow morning at 10:45 CEST.


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