Unlucky weekend for Hamda Al Qubaisi in F4UAE round 3
Coming from her first win of the season and after promising qualifying sessions, Hamda Al Qubaisi encountered an unlucky weekend in Dubai for the third round of the F4 UAE. As the series returns to Abu Dhabi, the Emirati star eyes a podium comeback.
In the third round of the F4 UAE Championship powered by Abarth, 14 drivers from 11 countries entered the four races over the weekend in Dubai Autodrome, in a series that is becoming increasingly popular and competitive among the top international upcoming single-seater drivers. Among them is Hamda Al Qubaisi, the 18-year old local hero. Hamda, sister of F3 driver Amna and younger daughter of experienced GT racer Khaled Al Qubaisi, had just won her first race of the 2021 season in the previous round at Yas Marina Circuit.
The qualifying session turned out to be a positive one for Hamda (Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema), as she set the third fastest laptime for race one and the was fourth in the second 15-minute session valid for Race 3. Dutchman Dilano Van’t Hoff (Xcel Motorsport) was fastest in both sessions and scored the pole positon for race 1 and 3, also adding the second fastest lap time in Q1 which earned him pole position for race 2 as well.
Hamda started race 1 from the second row and, just as it was all set for another podium battle, a collision with Nikita Bedrin forced the young lady from Abu Dhabi to an early retirement. Bedrin had to withdraw for the rest of the weekend due to a hand injury.
After a lengthy Safety Car, Van´t Hoff led the race to the chequered flag and won ahead of Enzo Trulli (Cram Motorsport) and Kirill Smal (Xcel Motorsport).
It was another Van´t Hoff front row start for race 2, but the championship leader ran wide on the opening lap, gifting Pepe Marti (Xcel Motorsport) the possibility to take the lead. It was a battle of four cars ahead, with Trulli and Hamda also joining the party for the top spot.
A Safety Car was developed to remove the stranded Tatuus F4 car of Jamie Day (Xcel Motorsport); at the green flag, a sprint race of four minutes began at the restart.
Trulli, who had taken over the lead just before the SC, defended his lead ahead of Marti, but Smal made his way up the order and join the fight for last podium spot. The Russian finished third ahead of Hamda Al Qubaisi and Van´t Hoff.
In race 3, Trulli and Van´t Hoff engaged in Turn 1 battle just after the start: the young son of the former F1 driver snatched the lead and pulled away. Van´t Hoff, Smal, Marti and Hamda Al Qubaisi followed closely and fought for the podium spots again. Smal was able to catch up with Trulli and crossed the finish line in P1, taking his second victory in the series. Trulli and Van´t Hoff completed the podium - as Hamda finished just 0,176s behind the third-placed Xcel Motorsport car. Nonetheless, she scored the fastest lap of the race, her first of the season.
The inversion of the top-8 shapes the grid for race 4, which meant that Jonas Ried (BWT Mücke Motorsport) found himself on pole ahead of Francesco Braschi.
Unfortunately, the final race of the weekend was over even before the start for Hamda Al Qubaisi, as she made her way back to the pitlane with an engine misfire on the formation lap. The Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema driver would only complete a few laps towards the end of the competition after repairs.
Ried lead the field at the start, while Van´t Hoff moved up from sixth to second on the first lap. A group of six cars battled for the podium spots and, with plenty of action for track positions, Smal secured his second victory of the weekend ahead of Braschi and Van´t Hoff.
In the championship standings, Van´t Hoff leads with 229 points, ahead of Trulli (204) and Smal (178). Hamda is currently 4th with 133 points.
The next round of the F4 UAE will take place at Yas Marina Circuit from 4th to 6th February.