F4UAE: Al Qubaisi picks up 10th podium, Juffali scores best F4 result
Emirati upcoming talent Hamda Al Qubaisi scored her 10th podium in F4 UAE, completing all the races at Dubai Autodrome this weekend in the top-3. With the 5th place, Reema Juffali claimed her best ever F4 result.
The youngest member of the Al Qubaisi sisters, 17-year old Hamda, finished another impressive weekend in the Emirati-based Formula 4 championship this weekend at Dubai Autodrome, claiming her 10th podium of the season.
Coming from her breakthrough victory of the previous Yas Marina round, Hamda Al Qubaisi entered the penultimate event of the 2020 F4 UAE with the aim of carrying momentum into the final stages of the championship.
Friday practice started with Xcel Motorsport teammates Lorenzo Fluxa and Francesco Pizzi finishing on top of the timesheets, with Al Qubaisi close behind in third. Saudi racer Reema Juffali was ninth fastest. Qualifying saw a similar result, with the top-2 drivers swapping places: championship leader Francesco Pizzi claimed his first pole position in the series, breaking Al Qubaisi's perfect-streak. The Abu Dhabi Racing driver finished third, 0.329 seconds behind the benchmark. But a 3-places grid drop following her race 4 accident at Yas Marina relegated her in sixth for the race 1 starting grid.
Juffali slotted-in in 10th ahead of Constantin Reisch, who made his championship return for 3y Technology in place of Isack Hadjar. However, Reema was forced to start from the back of the field, as she also received a 3-places grid penalty.
When the lights went out, pole-starter Pizzi stalled, leaving Fluxa and Göhler in free air. The German had the better sprint towards turn 1, but the stewards deemed his move as a jump start.
The BWT Mücke Motorsport driver defended his leadership until the end of the race, under heavy pressure from Fluxa. With only half a second to divide the two drivers under the chequered flag, it was Spanish Lorenzo Fluxa to claim his maiden victory in the series and his first in formula racing. After the 5-seconds penalty was applied, Nico Göhler was officially classified in second.
Hamda Al Qubaisi ran a more distant race in third, defending from the return of Pizzi. Marinangeli was fifth, with Josef Knopp crossing the line one second behind in sixth.
Reema Juffali had a good comeback to claim 8th place, only marginally behind Mehrbod Shameli. RACE 2
Dubai hosted the second race on Friday evening, under a scenic sunset backdrop.
The reverse-grid race saw Josef Knopp taking the start from pole, sharing the front row with Italian Nicola Marinangeli. Pizzi and Al Qubaisi lined up alongside on the second row, while Juffali was eighth.
For the second time during the weekend, the pole-sitter stalled on the startline, forcing all the drivers to take evasive action. Unfortunately, Nico Göhler was caught off-guard and crashed into his BWT Mücke Motorsport teammate.
The Safety Car was immediately deployed to clear the main straight, as Göhler pulled to the side of the track with a broken suspension.
Pizzi led the field at the restart, managing to complete the 17 laps with a 2.3 seconds gap from Xcel Motorsport teammate Marinangeli. Hamda Al Qubaisi was again third, while Reema Juffali completed a stunning race in fifth, beaten on the finish line by Lorenzo Fluxa for fourth. It was Juffali's best ever Formula 4 result, equalling her second race at Abu Dhabi during the second round of the championship.
On Saturday morning, the racing action resumed for Race 3: Xcel Motorsport's Pizzi and Fluxa shared the front row, ahead of Hamda Al Qubaisi and Nico Göhler.
The young lady had a blistering start and brought herself up into the lead, but was later passed by championship leader Pizzi on the second lap.
Nicola Marinangeli stalled on the grid from fifth: it was a major blow to the Italian's championship ambitions, as he was second and equal on points with Göhler.
Marinangeli's setback meant that Göhler, fourth, could easily became Pizzi's closest rival in the title chase.
Fluxa closed in on Al Qubaisi and made a move stick on the Emirati driver for second. At the end of the 30 minutes race, Pizzi claimed his eighth win of the season, scoring another 1-2 for Xcel Motorsport. Hamda Al Qubaisi rounded out once again the podium positions, with another convincing performance.
Reema Juffali finished seventh, ahead of Zuniga, Marinangeli and Shameli with yet another solid comeback through the field for the Saudi driver.
In the final race of the fourth championship round, Zdenek Chovanec started from reverse grid pole alongside Czech driver Josef Knopp. It was then an interesting second row, featuring Nico Göhler and Hamda Al Qubaisi: the two more experienced drivers were quick at the lights to grab the lead, with the German driver ahead of the #88 Abu Dhabi Racing entry.
A first lap incident involving Reema Juffali - who was starting in a promising seventh place - and Constantin Reisch brought both their races to a premature end and saw the Safety Car being deployed. Following the collision, Juffali will receive a three-place grid penalty at the next championship round according to the steward's decision.
Nicola Marinangeli advanced six places to claim 3rd approximately 3.5 seconds behind Al Qubaisi, who scored her 10th podium finish and ninth in the last ten races. She was the only driver to finish all four races on the podium in Dubai, proving her impressive potential and consistency.
Her 2020 F4 UAE campaign is, in fact, her first full championship in single-seaters.
"Round 4 of the F4 UAE championship here at Dubai Autodrome - Race 3: made my way to P1 and had some great battles but finished P3. Race 4: started P4 and finished P2."
"Looking forward to round 5 in 2 weeks time" - wrote Hamda via her social media feeds.
Two weeks from the fifth round and season finale, Francesco Pizzi leads the standings with 260 points, 49 points ahead of Nico Göhler. Lorenzo Fluxa and Hamda Al Qubaisi are respectively third and fourth, only separated by one point. Juffali, currently at 88 points, sits in eighth.
F4 UAE will be back at Dubai Autodrome for its final round in two weeks time, on March 6th-7th.