The young Emirati racing driver returned to the track at Vallelunga for the Italian F4 season finale, but had to focus on fixing car issues after a big testing accident.
The Italian-based championship will be the last European F4 series to round out its 2020 season this weekend, as the grid of 33 cars head to Autodromo Piero Taruffi in Vallelunga for its seventh round of the season.
18-year old racing driver Hamda Al Qubaisi - at her first full campaign in formula racing - had a very promising season, as she conquered two top-10 results, respectively at Red Bull Ring and Monza, in one of the most competitive junior formula fields worldwide.
Hamda had a learning-oriented year in the Italian F4 Championship powered by Abarth and also had the opportunity to maximise her track time on wet and mixed weather - conditions that the young F4 drivers found very often in the last months of 2020.
Friday in Vallelunga was again a damp and cold day when the Tatuus F4 cars hit the track: Jonny Edgar (Van Amersfoort Racing) led the pack in both the practice sessions, followed by freshly-crowned champion Gabriele Minì (Prema Powerteam) in the morning and VAR teammate Jak Crawford in the afteroon.
Imola race winner Dino Beganovic was third in FP1, ahead of Muecke Motorsport’s Josh Durksen. Tramniz was third for US Racing in FP2, marginally edging Durksen and Minì.
Hamda Al Qubaisi was P29 and P30 in the two practice sessions, with a best lap time of 1:34.653.
“The first practice session was a bit strange for the conditions as it was drying-wet and we were on slicks, so it took me a bit of time to adapt to the track, but towards the end I was improving lap by lap - and I did my best lap at the end, so I think it is an improvement, but not the result I really wanted.” - said Hamda.
“Free practice 2 was completely dry but I’m having problems with the car, I’m struggling a bit to find what’s right.”
The young Emirati, in fact, had to focus her attention on understanding the car after a huge shunt suffered in the pre-event testing days, when her #88 Abu Dhabi Racing F4 car went off at high speed and flipped, sustaining major damages.
“I had the two test days here with the team, but unfortunately on the first day I had a really big accident where I flipped”, she explained. “My brakes failed going into the first corner; I just went straight and the car flipped - it was really a big accident. Considering that the first two sessions went really well for me - I was always in the top ten, and I don’t know the track - so, when I came back from that accident everything was new on the car, as there were big damages and until now we are having issues with the car. We’re trying to fix everything to make sure that’s if fine for the race.”
Luckily, Al Qubaisi was unharmed in the crash.
“I’m ok, I just had a bit of a bruises, but it was a big shock for me as it was the biggest incident I ever had, so to get back in the car and to go again, I was very tense.” - she said.
“Also, the day before yesterday it was raining a lot so I couldn’t really feel the car as I wanted to. Today it was a bit dry, so it’s good - at least I got some feedback from the car and I know where we have the problems. I told the mechanics, they’re working hard to solve it and hopefully we’ll get it sorted by the end of the weekend.”
Al Qubaisi remains hopeful for the coming days at Vallelunga, despite the heavy showers expected for Saturday and Sunday.
“I managed to improve quite a lot from FP1 and FP2, but looking at the weather conditions I feel like it’s going to be wet tomorrow. At least I did my best - there is obviously a lot of improvements to do and I’m working with the team to solve the issues; it’s my last weekend of 2020 before I go back to the UAE, so we have to make the most out of it!”
The first F4 qualifying session will start at 09:55 CEST tomorrow, with Q2 following at 10:15 local time.