Amna Al Qubaisi claims best seasonal result with top-15 in Italian F4
Young Arab driver Amna Al Qubaisi had a remarkable end to a “up and down” Imola weekend in the Italian F4 with seasonal best finish.
The competitive Italian Formula 4 championship took the track this weekend at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy, for its fifth round of the season and 47 days after the last race at Red Bull Ring, Austria.
Amna Al Qubaisi, the first lady driver from the Emirates to compete internationally, started her weekend with high hopes and spent the first practice session to get the feelings back with the car: “FP1 was more like a warm up session, since it’s been a month since I’ve been in the car. So it was more about getting the rythm back with the car.”
After an unfortunate qualifying, Amna was forced to take the start of the races from the penultimate row, on a track where passing is difficult and in a field of 30 fierce young drivers.
Al Qubaisi was than protagonist of a solid and error-free race, where she made up position after position to finish 18th.
“We’ve got into the pace, the car was much better feeling wise. We got a faster lap time better than in qualifying and some overtaking, as there were hard battles between the other drivers and also some crashes in front, but so far so happy.” – commented Amna.
The second race held on Saturday was again a low-moment for the 19-year old girl, as her progression through the field was interrupted by an accident at Tamburello corner with four laps to go: while fighting with Ugran, Al Qubaisi was hit by Marinangeli who outbroke himself, crashing into the back of the #88 Prema car driven by the innocent Al Qubaisi. Stranded in the gravel, Amna was forced to retire.
Nicola Marinangeli received a six places grid drop for the third race following the incident.
Sunday’s morning race 3 saw Al Qubaisi having another good getaway from 27th on the grid. Half-way through the race, though, when she was fighting hard for the positions around P22, it was Marinangeli again to compromise her chase for the top 20. Down the hill towards the first Rivazza corner, the Bhaitech driver dived on the inside and, with no gap to complete the move, he hit Al Qubaisi leaving the driver from Abu Dhabi with a cutted tyre. She promptly pitted for a new set of tyres, but the damages sustained in the contact meant that Al Qubaisi finished the third race in 25th, one lap down.
After two frustrating races, the Imola weekend finished on a high for Al Qubaisi, as the Italian Formula 4 contested a fourth race following the cancellation of the third race in Misano earlier last May due to the adverse weather conditions.
The Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema Powerteam driver masterfully avoided troubles in a chaotic first lap and climbed the order up to P13 in the opening stages. She was able to defend well after the frequent Safety Car restarts and completed some clean overtakings, while always racing with consistent pace. In the second half of the race, she kept improving her lap times and had to defend from some charging drivers behind.
After a tense final lap, Amna Al Qubaisi crossed the finish line to take a remarkable 15th place, her best seasonal result in the Italian F4 championship and just 9 thousandths of a second ahead of Andrea Rosso.
“The last race was very good, I made up a few positions and I was P13 but the Safety Car was a mess and it was a hard battle to keep the positions.” – she said after the race.
Al Qubaisi, who raced at the Red Bull Ring alongside her sister Hamda, has made steady progresses throughout the season and will now head to Mugello on 4th-6th October for the penultimate round of the 2019 F4 championship.
Ph credits: Racers-BehindTheHelmet.com