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Hamda & Amna Al Qubaisi claim podiums in F4 Saudi Trophy Round

Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi secured one podium finish each at the first ever event of the brand-new Saudi Arabian F4 Championship, hosting a Trophy Round in Bahrain; one of the fastest drivers on track, Hamda just missed out on a win, while Amna made great recoveries after an unlucky qualifying.

Amna Al Qubaisi and Hamda Al Qubaisi, Meritus, F4 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
Photo credits: Bahrain International Circuit

Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi returned behind the wheel for their first race after the F4 UAE Trophy Round at their home race in Abu Dhabi, where they contested the two non-championship races in support of the F1 season finale.

Having both raced and won races the inaugural season of the all-female championship F1 Academy, the Al Qubaisi sisters have been making strides in the last few years and have been crucial figures in the development of the sport in Middle East: with Amna becoming the first Arab woman to win a race in single seaters in 2019, her sister Hamda was on the podium in Italian F4 and has secured 10 F4 wins to date.

Amna and Hamda continue to be instrumental in the growth of motorsport in the region with their participation in the inaugural non-championship round of the brand-new F4 Saudi Arabia championship, which kicked off at Bahrain International Circuit with four exciting contests that showed big potential for the series.

Promoted by Altawkilat Meritus GP - which used to run F4 South East Asia from 2016 to 2019 - F4 Saudi is designed to be a true innovative concept for the region, aiming to develop local talents all year round rather than offer a winter-only opportunity for European teams preparing for their summer seasons. The six event calendar - including the opening non-championship round - feature races in some of the top venues in the region: Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait as well as the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, home of the Saudi F1 GP since 2021.

While the build up went mostly under the radar with no official announcements, once the all new Tatuus T421 machines with Pirelli tyres hit the track it was immediately clear that the series was a promising and ambitious project with an already competitive line up of drivers: together with Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi, drivers of the likes of Federico Al Rifai, Suleiman Zanfari, Oscar Wurz battled closely for the top spots at the Sakhir circuit, which hosted for the first time a F4 race.

After a full testing day on Thursday, drivers contested a practice session on Friday morning, led by Suleiman Zanfari. The Moroccan driver was again on top of the timesheets in the 30 minute qualifying session, clocking a 2:05.585 that put him in pole position. Hamda Al Qubaisi, though, was the closest driver to challenge Zanfari; the young Emirati ran in the top three for most of the session and eventually improved in her final timed attempt, when she was the only other driver to lap under the 2:06 minute mark: Hamda was three tenths short of pole position and would line up in second place, ahead of Oscar Wurz and Federico Al Rifai.

Due to a technical issue on her car, Amna Al Qubaisi wasn't able to do better than tenth fastest, with a 2:07.086 lap in her final run that limited her top speed on the straights and forced her to recover from the back in most of the races.

Amna Al Qubaisi, Meritus, F4 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
Photo credits: Bahrain International Circuit

Race 1

Zanfari had a good getaway and held position from Hamda Al Qubaisi, who had to defend from Al Rifai and Wurz, who tried to attack the Emirati into turn 4 but had to slot behind. Hamda, in fact, was soon glued to the back of Zanfari's car and started to put pressure on the race leader. From tenth on the grid, Amna had a brilliant launch and was already up to seventh after the first lap, having cleared three cars and now chasing Almoasherji and Kutskov.

Hamda attacked Zanfari on lap 2 and clearly had pace to pass but also had to watch her mirrors from Al Rifai - as the latter waited for an opportunity to dive in. Hamda tried again to go around the outside of turn 1 - but that opened again the door to Al Rifai, although Hamda defended superbly in the following corners.

Just as Amna overtook Kutskov for sixth with a late braking into turn 1, Hamda took the outside line into turn 4 and took the lead of the race on lap 4 - but Zanfari fought back at turn 8, forcing Hamda around the outside which cost her a couple of positions. With six laps to go, Hamda tried to recover but a contact at turn 2 left the young Emirati out of the race and required the intervention of the safety car.

Amna Al Qubaisi had climbed up to fifth, and the neutralization was an opportunity for her to rejoin the group of the front runners. The race resumed with 4 laps to go; Zanfari was under pressure from Wurz and Al Rifai - with the latter claiming second at turn 2. Amna also had her eyes on fourth place and tried to find a gap on Almoasherji - in some stellar final laps.

Amna did find her way past and, with Zanfari dropping down the order, she was in the battle for the podium on the final lap of the race. A lunge from Omar Aldereyaane, though, resulted in Amna facing the wrong way at turn 8 - and in a 5 second penalty for the Saudi.

Wurz took victory in race 1, ahead of Almousherji and Al Rifai - third by one tenth of a second.

Despite the unfortunate outcome, both the Al Qubaisi sisters proved great speed in race 1 and were clearly in contention for a victory as well as for a top-five.

Hamda Al Qubaisi, Meritus, F4 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
Photo credits: Bahrain International Circuit

Race 2

Having been classified ninth at the end of Race 1, Amna Al Qubaisi lined up on the front row for race 2 on Saturday morning, alongside reverse pole-sitter Faisal Alkabbani.

Amna had a good start aand, with Zanfari and Alkabbani battling into the first corner, she joined the leaders in a three-wide moment at turn 4. From last on the grid, Hamda also had a good launch and immediately recovered two positions in the opening corners.

Zanfari had managed to snatch the lead from Alkabbani, before the safety car was deployed at the end of the first lap for the stricken car of Abdulaziz Abuzenadah. Oscar Wurz also pitted with front wing damage after making contact with Hamda Al Qubaisi. After the hectic first lap, Hamda was up to tenth place and ready to resume her recovery drive when the green flag waved again on lap 3 despite having picked up some damage that hampered the rest of her race. Hamda in fact lost a place to Al Rifai but overtook Abdulaziz Altayar and Jabor bin Hassan Al-thani, climbing to eighth.

Her sister Amna was also trading places and defended third from Aldereyaane. Meanwhile, Zanfari had retained the lead from Alkabbani, with the leading duo opening a small gap. With Aldereyaane, Al Rifai, Maassen and Kutskov battling just behind her, Amna Al Qubaisi pulled away and safely kept third, a second and a half from the two leaders.

Hamda gained further positions when she passed Almoasherji and Kutskov - who dropped down after losing momentum in the battle ahead. Hamda was on a mission and caught up with Maassen; she was as close as a few tenths away on the penultimate lap, but couldn't ultimately find a gap to snatch sixth.

On the final lap, Amna Al Qubaisi closed the gap to Alkabbani and attacked the Saudi in the final three corners; she eventually crossed the finish line two tenths of a second behind, claiming a brilliant third place and her first podium in the F4 Saudi season - as well as the sixth of her Formula 4 career.

Amna Al Qubaisi, Meritus, F4 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
Photo credits: Bahrain International Circuit

Race 3

Race 2 winner Suleiman Zanfari lined up on pole for race 3, barely two hours after race 2; alongside him was Hamda Al Qubaisi - who was looking for redemption after the unlucky end to her first race, while her sister Amna would line up in ninth based on the second fastest lap from Friday's qualifying.

Both Al Qubaisi sisters had great launches, but after Zanfari tried to defend his position, Hamda was squeezed and it would be Federico Rifai to claim the lead at turn 2. Hamda was faster and also overtook Zanfari with a brilliant move at the hairpin. Soon after, Hamda was already hunting down Rifai - and Amna was also on the move, having gained 3 places on the first lap, including a successful move into turn one on Maassen, although he fought back one lap later.

Al Rifai set the fastest lap but Hamda was certainly not giving up and kept the gap within a second to the leader. A battle for third between Kutskov and Almoasherji ended in a small contact, but both drivers continued - although Wurz was up to third. This allowed Maassen and Amna Al Qubaisi also to join this group of battling cars.

Ahead, Al Rifai tried to break the tow to Hamda, as the Emirati young woman kept chipping away. The battle between Kutsov and Almoasherji resumed, as the latter snatched fourth and then chased Wurz for third.

With a superbly consistent race, Hamda Al Qubaisi kept the gap stable and took the chequered flag in second place, securing her first podium of the weekend, behind Federico Al Rifai. Hamda raced hard and brought home a highly positive second place, managing tyre deg towards the end of the race.

After a great start, Amna Al Qubaisi kept touch with the front runners and, having gained two places, she took the chequered flag in seventh.

Hamda Al Qubaisi, Meritus, F4 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
Photo credits: Bahrain International Circuit

Race 4

In the final race of an action-packed inaugural weekend for the new Saudi series, Jabor bin Hassan Al-Thani had the chance to start from reverse grid pole ahead of Abdulaziz Altayar and Omar Aldereyaane. Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi would have to carve their way through the field from fifth and tenth respectively.

At lights out, Amna Al Qubaisi was the protagonist of one of the best starts of the season - firing straight into the lead from fifth place. Amna defended from Aldereyaane, while pole sitter Al-Thani then collided with Altayar at turn 7 - which triggered the safety car. Aldereyaane, though, managed to get ahead of Amna just as the Safety Car board was displayed and took the restart from the lead.

From tenth, Hamda Al Qubaisi was also moving forward and was up to tenth when the green flag waved on lap 3. Amna and Wurz traded positions at the restart, with Maassen and Almoasherji also in the mix. Amna unfortunately dropped down the order as her car lost speed down the straights - and she would have to battle with Kutskov and her sister Hamda at turn 1.

Meanwhile, Oscar Wurz caught Aldereyaane and grabbed the lead on lap 5 after a clean pass at turn 10. The Saudi driver, though, kept up the pace and remained half a second behind the Austrian - while enjoying a 2 second margin to Zanfari, third after a great recovery.

Hamda passed her sister on the penultimate lap, having run a few tenths faster in the second half of the race. Once up to seventh, Hamda tried to close the gap to Kutskov - but the Al Qubaisi sisters had to settle for seventh and eighth in the final race of the Trophy Round, eventually won by Oscar Wurz ahead of Aldereyaane and Zanfari.

"Race 4 was a bit of a mess with the safety car as I was leading and got a little confused", Amna commented. "After the safety car restart I was losing a lot of positions due to my car having a few issues where I lost speed down the straights."

Amna Al Qubaisi, Meritus, F4 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
Photo credits: Bahrain International Circuit

Ending a nevertheless widely positive weekend, Hamda and Amna Al Qubaisi came home with one podium each and showed enough pace to battle for victories. Hamda was consistently one of the fastest drivers on track in every session and secured her 28th podium in Formula 4. Amna once again showcased her ability in recovering positions and, despite the unlucky fourth race, she will also have plenty of positives to take from this outing in the Saudi series.

The F4 Saudi Arabian Championship will return to the track on 5-7 January, for the first points-paying round at Lusail International Circuit, Qatar.



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