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F1 Academy: Hamda Al Qubaisi wins again in MP 1-2 on home soil

With another lights-to-flag win and fastest lap, Hamda Al Qubaisi rounded out her spectacular Zandvoort weekend with a 1-2 for MP Motorsport on home soil, preceding Emely de Heus and Léna Bühler. The Emirati is now merely 5 points from the leadership coming into Monza.


Photo by: Racers - Behind the Helmet

With another perfect race to round out the fourth round of the championship, Hamda Al Qubaisi took victory and fastest lap in Zandvoort – and closed in on championship leader Marta García, now only 5 points ahead. 20-year-old Al Qubaisi came into the weekend with a 41 point deficit and gained 30 points over Saturday alone, securing two pole positions, a win and a fastest lap. While the second race – the 20 minute reverse grid race – proved to be more challenging for Hamda, who was left ninth and with no points, she bounced back brilliantly in the final contest of the weekend with another dominant performance. With a podium finish a little over 40 days after a bad arm fracture, Al Qubaisi's season has been nothing short of remarkable. Her first win came at Valencia – but an unfortunate Barcelona round denied her a podium and important points. At Zandvoort – a track where she had raced already in both F4 and Formula Regional machinery – Hamda knew she would have the chance to cut the gap, but had to battle through the pain of her injury on such a physically demanding circuit. Qualifying proved to be the most challenging moment physically for the drivers; Hamda Al Qubaisi and Léna Bühler – the two fastest drivers around the Dutch track after practice and qualifying – would line up alongside once more for race 3 on Sunday afternoon. At lights out, Al Qubaisi retained first place over Bühler, ahead of de Heus, García and Edgar. From ninth place, Megan Gilkes had contact with Lovinfosse at turn 1 – both went wide and while the Frenchwoman could continue, the Rodin Carlin driver had to pit and ultimately retire from the race. Also involved in the turn 1 moment, Abbi Pulling lost places. After the heartbreak of race 2, where she couldn't capitalize on her pole position, Amna Al Qubaisi started from the back of the field but had a great start and gained four spots in the first lap, immediately moving up into the top 10. The whole field was separated by a few seconds after the first laps, with Al Qubaisi trying to repeat her Saturday's success. The fastest lap changed hands between Hamda and Léna – with de Heus and García also trying to keep up with their pace. Further behind, Chloe Chong traded positions with Lola Lovinfosse for P12. Maite Caceres capitalized on this battle and got ahead of Chong – while Amna Al Qubaisi, struggling on old tyres, dropped back to 12th. On the podium in race 1, Nerea Martí also had pace in the opening stages and closed in on Jessica Edgar – was not far off of García as well. Schreiner had not cracked under pressure in the reverse grid race – and now would have to resist the attacks of Abbi Pulling for ninth place. Lovinfosse joined the action but she ended up making contact with Pulling at Turn 9; both drivers were out, triggering the safety car intervention on lap 9. Hamda Al Qubaisi and Léna Bühler had just managed to open a small gap to de Heus - who was eager to return in contention on her home race. The green flag waved again with 8 minutes to go and de Heus snatched second from Bühler – allowing her teammate Al Qubaisi some breathing space. Nerea Martí had also been demoted to seventh by Bianca Bustamante – the Filipina looking fast enough to challenge Jessica Edgar as well. Edgar, though, hit trouble with 3 minutes left on the clock: the Rodin Carlin driver slowed down and had to regroup and recover from P12. Now fifth, Bustamante set the fastest third sector and chased her Prema teammate Marta García. After 17 laps, Hamda Al Qubaisi was back on the top step of the podium with her third win of the season, preceding MP Motorsport teammate Emely de Heus – in a 1-2 for the Dutch team on home soil. "It's been a really tough start of the season and I'm really happy I got to show my potential here in Zandvoort, on our home track", Hamda commented. "It's really special for us and getting a 1-2 with Emely it's really nice to have both cars on top of the podium", she continued. "All of us have had a podium and a win so far, so we're working really well as a team." De Heus made the most out of the safety car, despite being concerned about the restart: "When I saw the safety car I was a bit stressed, because in the other races I wasn't that good with the restarts", she said. "It worked now, so I'm really happy." Léna Bühler scored her seventh podium finish – the fourth consecutive one, equalling García's record. "I'm a bit disappointed by this race because I lost one position at the safety car restart as Emely overtook me in the straight line. But we had a really good pace this weekend, I'm very happy and the team did a good job. We also had no new tyres for this weekend and Hamda was on new, so we missed a bit of pace, but it was still good with this tyre." Fourth across the line Marta García still scored important points for the championship, limiting the damage after a very strong weekend for her main rival in the championship fight. Bianca Bustamante had a great recovery and was back in the top five after Barcelona's first race; she preceded Nerea Martí in sixth, Chloe Grant in seventh and Carrie Schreiner in eighth place. Despite the old set of tyres, Amna Al Qubaisi could salvage a ninth place from the back of the field that brings back the Emirati in the points. With a remarkable progression from the first practice session, Maite Caceres kept improving session after session, dropping off second after second in her personal reference. In her second ever season of car racing and her first in Europe, Caceres' hard work has finally paid off and the Uruguayan secured her first point of the season with a hard-fought top ten in race 3. Chloe Chong was less than a tenth behind – as the youngest driver on the grid also put on a great fight. Jessica Edgar rounded out the field, having lost a top five with a few minutes to go. Next up is going to be the Temple of Speed – Autodromo Nazionale di Monza – in two week's time. An easy track on paper, with long straights and not many corners, the home of the Italian GP can actually be a tricky circuit that rewards those who understand its secrets. With now three rounds to go, the battle for the inaugural F1 Academy title couldn't get more exciting.

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