One more Victory for Hamda Al Qubaisi in F4 UAE
In the fourth round of F4 UAE at Yas Marina Circuit, Hamda Al Qubaisi scored her fifth victory of her Formula 4 career. The weekend started with promising practice and quali sessions and resulted in one win and some unlucky races.
The fourth round of the F4 UAE saw two new winners while the championship fight scaled down to three as Hamda Al Qubaisi, despite an outstanding victory, lost points in the remaining races and won't be able to continue her title fight.
18-year old Emirati racing prodigy Hamda Al Qubaisi topped both practice sessions on Thursday and she converted her pace into a second place on the starting grid for race 1 and 3. Dilano Van´t Hoff (Xcel Motorsport) scored both pole positions for race 1 and 3, while Pepe Marti (Xcel Motorsport) claimed the pole for race 2.
Race 1 would eventually prove costly for the young Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema star, as she started P2 behind Van´t Hoff - who fended off her attacks. Hamda lost a position, cut the chicane, rejoined the track in second and returned the position. A lap later, she went deep and tagged Van´t Hoff, spinning the championship leader at Turn 7. Hamda was forced to retire following a front suspension damage, while Enzo Trulli (Cram Motorsport) passed Van´t Hoff around the outside.
The Safety Car was called out on track and, at the restart, the son of the former Italian F1 driver pulled away followed by Kirill Smal (Xcel Motorsport). The recovering Van´t Hoff moved up to third.
A second Safety Car phase interrupted the race once again, but Trulli and Smal held on to their first and second places until the chequered flag. Marti was able to pass Van´t Hoff for the last podium spot just before crossing the finish line.
A flag-to-flag win in race 2 marked the maiden victory for Marti ahead of Trulli and Van´t Hoff, who battled the whole race with Hamda Al Qubaisi for the final podium position.
In the closing stages, a spin by Thai racer Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak (Xcel Motorsport) brought out the Safety Car - which ended the race under yellow.
Starting from P2 in race 3, Hamda took over the lead into Turn 1 with a blistering start.
The young Emirati and Van´t Hoff again battled for the whole first lap, with Hamda being forced to cut the track at Turn 7. Aware of the 5-second penalty she would have received, Al Qubaisi pulled away and opened a gap of 10,8 seconds as she crossed the finish line. With another 5-second penalty for of exceeding track limits, the gap was nonetheless big enough the keep the victory with a 0,8 seconds lead, ahead of Trulli and Van´t Hoff.
It was Hamda's fifth victory in Formula 4, her second this year, and likely her most impressive and dominant show in the championship.
Through the reversed grid rule, Jonas Ried appeared on pole (BWT Mücke Motorsport) ahead of Enzo Scionti (Cram Motorsport) for race 4. Ried had the better start, but the Safety Car was called out as Trulli and Marti came together at the end of the back straight.
At the restart Ried led the field in front of Smal and Jamie Day (Xcel Motorsport). But there was more drama as Ried and Smal both received 5 seconds penalties for track limits. The same fate occurred to Hamda Al Qubaisi, who had started the reverse grid in eighth place and was running P6 after completing a couple of overtaking moves. Al Qubaisi managed to catch up with the leading group after breaking away from the battles behind, but she struggled towards the end, likely due to tyre drop-off.
That marked Day's maiden victory, ahead of Inthraphuvasak and Ried. Hamda dropped down to P8 after her penalty was applied, while Van´t Hoff was disqualified for using a non-homologated specification part on his Tatuus F4 car.
The championship fight now comes down to Van´t Hoff (275), Trulli (274) and Smal (233), with Hamda Al Qubaisi sitting fourth in the points standings. The last round of the F4 UAE 2021 season will take place at Dubai Autodrome from 11th to 13th February.