Back to where she belongs: after a strong qualifying in Monza, Hamda Al Qubaisi will start the three final races of the Italian F4 season in P10, P9 and P6 – in her second-best qualifying of the season.
She knew Monza was familiar territory. At the final weekend of the Italian Formula 4 season, Hamda Al Qubaisi kept promises and scored her second best qualifying of the year, following a remarkable Friday at the Temple of Speed. In the practice sessions, Al Qubaisi was 18th and 20th fastest – in two sessions interrupted by a few red flags. Traffic and slipstreams were the crucial talking points at Monza, but Hamda was able to work on strategy for the afternoon’s qualifying and had clean runs to slot into tenth place in the 15-minute Q1. “In Free Practice 1 we had very used tyres, so it was just to get back with the feeling of the track.” – Hamda told us. “The temperatures were very low in the morning, a bit slippery and humid. It wasn’t the best I’ve done but I knew there was a margin, so I kept positive”. “In the second practice I couldn’t get a lap in. I put the new tyres quite late and I got bunched in traffic quite a lot. I didn’t do particularly well, but I still knew that the lap I could do was there. And I knew it was an easy top-ten.” – she continued. “I went into qualifying with that mindset and I just wanted to stay away from traffic as much as possible. Even if I had no draft, it wouldn’t matter. My most important point was to get a lap in – and I actually found a really good position, with also a really good distance from a few cars in front, which didn’t bother my lap.” In a very strong session, Al Qubaisi was consistently in the Top-10 throughout the session, lapping a few tenths from the leading cars lap after lap. Lorenzo Patrese took an impressive pole position for AKM Motorsport, leading crowned champion Oliver Bearman (Van Amersfoort Racing) by 0.102 seconds. Among the protagonists of the previous round at Mugello, Joshua Duerksen preceded Mucke Motorsport’s teammate Erick Zuniga on the second row, ahead of Sebastian Montoya and Tim Tramnitz. Montoya, though, will have to serve a grid drop after a Mugello incident. After a challenging weekend so far, Iron Dames’ Maya Weug was 24th in Q1, and went on to improve to P23 in Q2. Tenth after the penultimate attempt, Hamda Al Qubaisi was set to move further up when the time ran out, but she lost a few tenths in the second sector and finished in a still really promising P10. “In Q1 I still had more in me for the last few laps, but I hit traffic at the end. Still, I feel like it would have been an easy P8 or P7.” Patrese secured a double pole position, edging Leonardo Fornaroli (Iron Lynx). Sebastian Montoya and Andrea Kimi Antonelli locked out the second row for Prema Powerteam. Hamda Al Qubaisi was looking strong around 6th and 8th place. When a few drivers improved in the final seconds, Hamda dropped to ninth – securing a double top-10 in qualifying at Monza. Her second fastest lap put the Emirati 19-year old driver in sixth place for Sunday’s third race. “I’m really happy with P10 and P9 in the two qualifying sessions, and also the start of race 3 will be in P6, so it was my second highest qualifying position.” – she said. “I’m really happy about it; I was so frustrated that I couldn’t show this in the last few rounds, but I know I still had it in me. I’ll now focus on race 1 and 2 on Saturday, just to survive the first few corners and keep the pace. I really want to get some more points before I leave for Abu Dhabi.” The first race of the weekend at the Temple of Speed will get underway on Saturday at 11:30, while Race 2 is set to go green at 17:20 CEST.