F4 UAE: Four women on the grid at Abu Dhabi Trophy Round
Four female racers are set to compete in next week's Abu Dhabi non-championship round of the F4 UAE series, in support of the F1 season finale in the United Arab Emirates: home heroes Hamda and Amna Al Qubaisi - who famously won the race in 2019 - will be joined on the grid by fellow F1 Academy race winner Jessica Edgar and Laura Villars.
The F4 UAE Trophy round at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, has increasingly become one of the main events in F4 racing worldwide, attracting some of the most talented young drivers in junior single seaters for a non-championship race that is held in support of the Formula 1 season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The race traditionally acts as a prelude to the Formula 4 UAE Championship, which has grown into one of the highlight series thanks to its exciting fields that often brought the talents of tomorrow onto the international stage.
The event has traditionally been a great platform for female racers, with history being made in the 2019 edition, when Amna Al Qubaisi famously became the first Arab woman to win a single seater race and to step on the F1 podium.
This year's edition will be no different, with four female drivers set to join the grid for the highly anticipated event: Amna Al Qubaisi and her sister Hamda - two of the most successful Emirati drivers - will return to race on home soil, alongside fellow F1 Academy racer Jessica Edgar and F4 newcomer Laura Villars.
Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi will team up with MP Motorsport - the team that also supported the Emirati sisters in this year's F1 Academy championship. Amna took her breakthrough victory in F4 UAE in 2019, after she had built her experience in the uber competitive Italian F4. At her return to F4, Amna claimed two race victories in the all-female series and four podiums, eventually finishing sixth in the standings after a positive campaign.
Hamda also made her way up the ranks in Italian F4 - where she got to stand on the podium in an epic performance at Misano in 2021. In F4 UAE, Hamda has a record of success with six race wins across 2020 and 2021 - an achievement that makes the 21 year old the most successful female driver globally in mixed-gender F4 competitions.
In F1 Academy, Hamda battled for the title until the final round, having recovered heroically from a pre-season serious arm injury: she returned to racing only 75 days after surgery and collected seven podiums and four wins along her 2023 campaign.
Despite her F4 UAE success - that includes seven pole positions as well - Hamda has never finished on the podium in the Trophy Round, and will be eager to change that stat on the upcoming weekend.
After winning the last F1 Academy race of the season with a stunning performance at Circuit of the Americas, US, 18 year old Jessica Edgar will return behind the wheel for the F4 UAE Trophy Round as well: the British racer joins Rodin Carlin in a partnership with Xcel Motorsport.
Edgar had only raced in GB4 Series prior to her F1 Academy campaign, but she showed excellent improvements throughout the season and, with four podiums to her name, she was a consistent top-five finisher by the end of the year. Jessica, who finished eighth in the drivers' standings, has tested in Abu Dhabi recently and will make her F4 UAE debut, in what is shaping up like a strong field.
Xcel Motorsport lines up a 6 car operation that includes Swiss-French driver Laura Villars.
The 26 year old has taken her first steps in race cars this year and aims to continue building her experience in single seaters: having driven both F4 and Formula Regional machinery, she mainly focused her efforts in the 'Challenge Monoplace' series of the Ultimate Cup package.
Over four triple header rounds, Villars scored three top five finishes - her first coming at Estoril, Portugal, and two more at Magny-Cours, in her latest appearance in the series. While effectively contesting her first full year of competitions, Villars' consistency gained her 203 points in the F3R classification, where she currently sits in fifth place.
Villars joins Federico Al Rifai, Dion Gowda, Josh Irfan, Noah Lisle and Georgy Zhuravskiy at the UAE-based team.
The weekend format will feature a 45 minute practice session on Friday, a 30 minute qualifying and two 28-minute +1 lap races - respectively on Saturday at 12:15 and at 11:40 on Sunday morning, local time. After the non-championship round, five championship rounds between Yas Marina and Dubai Autodrome are scheduled, with entry lists to be announced.