F4 Italy: Hamda Al Qubaisi out of Race 1 after scary accident
After her best qualifying in the Italian F4, Hamda Al Qubaisi was luckily unhurt following a scary crash that took her out from Monza’s first race.
When on Friday afternoon the sun emerged from behind the clouds and pushed away the rain from the iconic Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, the weekend of Hamda Al Qubaisi suddenly was back on track for a top-10 result.
With eighth place after the dry practice session, Hamda built momentum as she started qualifying on Saturday morning, in slightly chilly but sunny conditions.
And again, in a very competitive Q1 session, the youngest of the Al Qubaisi sisters spent most of the opening 10 minutes in fourth place, before a red flag and a Full Course Yellow interrupted the action with 5 minutes left on the clock. Following a mistake in her final flying lap, Hamda dropped to 12th and missed out on a very reachable top six - but could nonetheless claim her best ever qualifying result in the Italian F4 Championship so far.
“I think Q1 went well, I just had a lock up in the last sector.” - she said. “It could have been a P6 easily, but I messed up with all the chaos happening.”
“With the red flags and the Full-Course Yellows you really only have one lap, so if you mess that lap up, you’ve messed up everything. But P12 was good.”
Q2 was even more chaotic and further interrupted by more red flags, resulting in Al Qubaisi not setting a competitive time before a mistake into Parabolica.
“I’ll start in P12, that’s the best qualifying I did so far, I’ll look at that for the positives. I know I can do better.” - she added. “I know I have the pace, I’ll try to catch and make positions - maybe again with a top ten finish.”
Aware of the common traffic jam of the first chicane, Hamda knew she had to go through Turn 1 unscathed. When the lights went out, the young lady from Abu Dhabi had a good getaway and could move up by two positions. But in midst of the crowded 27-cars grid, the driver of the #88 Abu Dhabi Racing by Iron Lynx car straightlined the famous Prima Variante, dropping to P16.
After more hectic moments in the midfield, Al Qubaisi lost more positions after going off at Ascari, but then she had the scariest moment on lap 3 when Wisnicki collided dangerously with the back of the Abu Dhabi Racing’s car and flew up and over Al Qubaisi - taking off her engine cover and landing few inches from Hamda’s cockpit.
Despite the damages, both immediately continued, but the Emirati driver had to return to the pits a few laps later.
“My start was not so bad, I made two positions in the straight, but then I decided to go straight instead of taking the chicane - and I think that was my first mistake.” - she explained.
“After that, I lost so many positions: I tried to make them up but then again I did another mistake and I went really wide into one of the corners. When I rejoined the track I had a bunch of cars behind me, they were catching me on the straights, as it happens here in Monza.”
“Then one of the guys from behind just completely drove over me. I saw his front wing on my front left mirror.”
“I tried to continue but I was losing so much speed on the straights and I couldn’t catch the others. I guess it’s just one of those bad races.”
Ahead, Gabriele Mini and Francesco Pizzi were constantly swapping positions for the lead of the race, with Rosso, Fornaroli - who had a really bad start from the front row - and Ugran right behind.
After Lorenzo Patrese had gone off in the gravel, the Safety Car was deployed. At the restart, the fierce battle for the lead heated up once again in full force, with Mini dropping to third behind Pizzi and Rosso in an all-Italian fight.
Soon enough, Delli Guanti and Beganovic made contact at Ascari and triggered another Safety Car neutralization late in the race, which paved the way for an exciting shoot-out for victory in the final minutes.
Prema’s Gabriele Mini made it up into the lead on the very final corner but - crucially - completing the pass on the outside of track limits at Parabolica. Despite a breath-taking run to the chequered flag that saw Mini victorious by only 15 thousandths of a second over Pizzi, the Prema driver was later penalized by 10 seconds - a decision that dropped him to 10th place.
Pizzi thus took victory in Monza's first race, ahead of Rosso and Ugran. Leonardo Fornaroli had a great run to claim fourth and preceded Sebastian Montoya in fifth.
But, regardless of any race results, we can say that it was a lucky day for 18-year old Emirati F4 driver Hamda Al Qubaisi, as the accident left her unscathed.
“We did the best quali so far and I was happy about that, but then to not end with a good result is a bit disappointing because I had the pace to be up there.” - she told us.
“I’ll now focus on race 2 and 3. In race 2 I’ll start at the back unfortunately, but I guess that it might be safer than in the middle and I’ll focus on making up positions. In race 3 I’ll start again from a good position [P11] and this time I’ll make the right decisions.”
Monza Race 2 will go underway on Sunday at 10:00 CEST.