Hamda Al Qubaisi recovers to P6 in Abu Dhabi F4UAE Trophy Round
Emirati racing star Hamda Al Qubaisi rounds out her final F4 race with a recovery to P6 after being spun around on the opening lap of the Abu Dhabi Trophy round.
The FIA Formula 4 UAE Trophy Round at YAS Marina has been an invaluable opportunity for many young drivers in the past years to step on the biggest stage ever – the F1 season finale at Abu Dhabi – and showcase their talent. The 2021 edition was no different – with the addition of an even bigger mission: taking the Tatuus T-421 car to its first worldwide victory. With the global debut of the Gen2 Formula 4 cars, in fact, the UAE-based Formula 4 championship was under the spotlight and had to battle with logistic challenges and delays that ultimately shortened the grid but that couldn't take away the prestige of the non-championship Abu Dhabi Trophy Round. Ten cars were delivered literally days before the Grand Prix and teams started to work tirelessly to get ready for the single-race on Sunday. Among the field, young Emirati star Hamda Al Qubaisi was announced to make a return on home soil for Prema Powerteam/Abu Dhabi Racing. With 6 victories and 19 podiums over two seasons in the UAE-based F4 championship, Hamda Al Qubaisi became the most successful woman in the history of Formula 4 – also scoring points on several occasions and an historic podium in the Italian championship in 2021. Hamda's sister Amna also rose to international fame in 2019, when she stormed to a historic win in the Trophy round becoming the first woman to climb the main step of an F1 podium. At the first official outing with the new Halo-equipped race cars, Hamda was an encouraging third in FP1, before finishing sixth in the second practice session. Prema teammate Andrea Kimi Antonelli led both sessions, ahead of colleagues Laursen and Wurz. In qualifying, the Italian clinched pole position on Saturday – confirming to be the man to beat on the updated track layout at YAS Marina with a lap of 1m55.574s – 0.8s seconds clear of Charlie Wurz. Hamda Al Qubaisi was fifth fastest and thus lined up on the third row of the grid for Sunday morning's race. "It’s really nice to be back at my home circuit, the new track is amazing, the new car is also really nice" – Hamda told us after qualifying. "I’m just trying to get comfortable with the track and car so far, and hopefully we can push for the race tomorrow and fight." As the lights went out, Charlie Wurz had the best getaway and leapfrogged Antonelli – who also came under attack from Danish teammate Conrad Laursen. Unfortunately, Hamda's race was hampered by an early contact, when MP Motorsport's Rik Koen locked up and spun the Emirati driver around and into the path of Miron Pingasov (MP Motorsport). The latter had to pit for a front wing change. The race was then neutralized behind the Safety Car when Koen collided with Xcel Motorsport's Aiden Neate and retired. Wurz led the pack in a Prema Abu Dhabi Racing 1-2-3 at the restart, with also 2020/2021 F4 UAE runner-up Dilano Van't Hoff joining the leading group. Van't Hoff and Antonelli made contact and the Dutchman retired, but the collision was deemed as a racing incident. In the second half of the race, Wurz managed to open a safe gap and took an historic win – the first of the second Formula 4 generation – ahead of Conrad Laursen and Andrea Kimi Antonelli. After the first lap incident, Hamda Al Qubaisi closed in on the pack again and went on the hunt, recovering to sixth place across the finish line. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Hamda showed good speed throughout the weekend and will leave the series with her head held high. "It was my last F4 race, so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to race here on home soil as a support race with F1, and in the Gen 2 F4 car." – said Hamda on Sunday. "The race didn’t end the way I wished it would, but I enjoyed it very much, and a big thank you to the team and my family for everything this weekend." "I'm looking forward to racing in the future in a higher category". Al Qubaisi will in fact not return to the next F4 UAE round in Dubai and has set her sights on Formula Regional Asian Championship. The Emirati F4 championship – which delivered once again great racing despite the logistic difficulties – will hit the track at Dubai next week for the collective test ahead of the first points-paying race meeting on 12-14 January at Dubai Autodrome. No female participation has been officially announced yet for the remainder of the season, but Racers Behind the Helmet understands that it is likely.