Hamda Al Qubaisi claims first top-10 in Italian F4
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
With a P14 and P16 in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring in Austria - which followed a really promising P12 in the first practice session - young driver Hamda Al Qubaisi pinned her first top-10 in the Italian F4 race 1.
The first practice session which went underway on Friday morning at the Red Bull Ring was the best for Hamda Al Qubaisi so far: she finished the session with an impressive 12th place under the sun of Austria. While Oliver Bearman for US Racing had set the fastest lap time in the session with a 1:31.272 lap, ahead of Joshua Duerksen (BMW Muecke Motorsport) and Jak Crawford (Van Amersfoort Racing), the young lady racing under the banner of Abu Dhabi Racing was just seven tenths off the overall lead - in the hugely competitive and crowded grid of 30 cars.
"Free practice 1 was really well this morning, I think we were 12 out of 30 driver, so really good in the morning session."
The second practice session was a bit slower for her as she took P19 after the 40-minute session. This time, to to the timesheets was Duerksen, with a lap time of 1:30.924, as the track got faster over the day. Second and third were Crawford and Gabriele Mini (Prema Powerteam). Hamda was 1,151s slower, with a best lap time of 1:32.075.
"We started it well, but then for free practice 2 we had new tyres and I had a bit of a mess with my brake balance and the position on track. I messed it up a bit, so we were P19. Now we are analyzing everything and working for the first qualifying tomorrow."
The qualifying session was the very first session of the day on the Red Bull Ring on Saturday. Hamda showed again very good pace and finished the first qualifying in P14 - which accounted for the starting position of race 1 - and on P16 in the second qualifying, which brought her some little struggles, but again resulted in a very solid mid-field position in the 30-car packed grid.
"For quali 1 it was a bit difficult because there are so many cars on track, so finding my position on the track was very hard, but then I managed to find a good position and it was not too bad, P14 for quali 1.
But then for quali 2 I was a bit out of traffic and messed up my laps a bit especially towards the end, but it was P16 and everyone is really really close. With 1 tenth lost you will be like P14 , so it's crazy how everyone is so close. But I think it's a positive big step from last time, and it's the best quali of so far, so I think it's good."
Race 1 started the sunny day in Austria with Duerksen from pole to the lead until an early Safety Car phase on the first lap slowed the pack down. Dexter Patterson half-spun after making contact with another car and shortly after, a four-car incident forced the deployment of the Safety Car to clean the track.
Duerksen defended at the restart, while Mini followed him closely and both built a gap to their opponents Johnny Edgar (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Bearman, who battled for the third podium place.
As Victor Bernier spun his R-Ace GP car and stalled after he made contact with Pietro Delli Guanti, driver for BVM Racing, a second Safety Car neutralized the action.
Again Duerksen won the restart and retained the lead, while Mini was under pressure from Edgar behind him. They took the chequered flag without further position changes across the line.
Hamda Al Qubaisi started from P14, moved up after the start to P13 and managed to stay out of trouble. She could claim P11 across the line - just as she did in the third race last time out in Imola - to equal her best finish in the uber-competitive Italian F4 Championship.
After a post-race penalty for Delli Guanti, though, the 18-year old Emirati girl was promoted up to P10, as she claimed her first top-10 in the series, to crown an amazing start of the weekend at the Red Bull Ring.
"I´m really happy about race 1. I think we did a massive step. We´re again out of the Top 10 by 1 position which happend last weekend as well in Imola, but yeah, I think I´m happy about that, the team did a good job and from P14 to P11, at least, you know, we made some positions. Was a though race, there were a lot of saftey cars and some incidents, but thankfully I didn´t get close to any incident. Finished the race, a positive race. And I think we can move forward from here. We still try to find a good set-up, some of the sectors I´m missing, trying to improve here and there and hopefully race 2 will be better. We are starting a bit further from the back for race 2, but anything can happen."